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Articles Posted in Wrongful death

Speeding Driver Had Been Awake for More Than 24 Hours

A year ago this week, comedian Tracy Morgan and his colleagues were on their way home after a performance when a speeding Wal-Mart truck plowed into their limo. 62 year-old James McNair, known as Jimmy Mack, was killed and 45 year-old Tracy Morgan was severely injured.

The popular star of SNL and Thirty Rock suffered serious traumatic brain injury, broken ribs and a broken leg. After a full year of extensive medical treatments and therapy, Tracy still has not been able to return to the stage. He made his first public appearance Monday and said he has bad days and good days. Although he continues to suffer from headaches and memory loss, Tracy told the Today Show host that his most difficult loss is the death of his close friend Jimmy Mack.

The fatal Wal-Mart accident might have been even worse. Tracy’s family typically travels with him to his comedy shows. But, fortunately, they remained home on this occasion. Otherwise, his children and fiancée may have been in the vehicle when the tractor-trailer plowed into them.

Confidential Settlement Agreement

Tracy’s settlement with the world’s largest retailer is confidential. Although the details are not public, Tracy expressed gratitude toward Wal-Mart, and the CEO of the company plans to make a personal apology, so these details give a small measure of insight into terms of the deal. Earlier this year, Wal-Mart settled with Jimmy Mack’s family for $10 million.

Driver Faces Criminal Charges, But What About Wal-Mart?

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Names Truck Driver and Trucking Company as Defendants 

An injured victim and her family in Sunday’s deadly 18-wheeler crash have filed a lawsuit against the truck driver and his employer, Ryder Integrated Logistics, Inc. The horrific Fort Worth big-rig crash killed five people and injured 12, most of them good Samaritans who had stopped to help the victim of an earlier accident.

It’s been a bad few years for the good citizens around here who help out other stranded motorists — witness the “affluenza teen” case where I represented a severely injured young man.

Deadly Crash Killed Comedian and Friend of Tracy Morgan

Wal-Mart settled a wrongful death claim arising out of the June crash that killed James McNair and severely injured his friend comedian Tracy Morgan. The retail giant will pay Mr. McNair’s children 26 year-old Jamel McNair and 19 year-old Denita McNair in annuities installments starting at $3,000 per month and increasing over time for the rest or their lives. 

Although the settlement terms are confidential, the $10 million settlement amount was included in a motion for attorney’s fees filed by the McNair family’s lawyer in Westchester County Surrogate’s Court in New York where the 62 year-old father lived.

Amount Set in 1980 Has Never Been Adjusted For Inflation

Tractor-trailers can cause massive injuries, often to more than one person. The owners of commercial vehicles in the $642 billion a year truck industry make substantial profits. And the risks of truck accidents have dramatically increased as over 500,000 of these giant trucks rush to deliver more products.

According to this report published by the U.S. Department of Transportation last year, the minimum amount of insurance that commercial freight operators is required to carry is ridiculously low. The coverage, only $750,000, is often inadequate to cover the catastrophic damage big rigs cause, especially if more than one person is injured or killed. This amount, unlike any other product or service you can name, has somehow remained the same for 35 years. I have blogged about this serious problem before.

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Semi Driver Failed to Slow Down Upon Approaching Stalled SUVs

A mother and her three children were killed in a firey tractor-trailer crash in Jacksonville, Florida on Monday. The Arkansas family was travelling southbound on I-295 and as they crossed over the Buckman Bridge, their Chevrolet Tahoe stalled. A Nissan Murano stopped behind the Tahoe SUV. The tractor-trailer then slammed into the Murano SUV, causing a chain reaction in which the Murano hit the Tahoe and the Tahoe was rammed into a concrete barrier. The Tahoe burst into flames with 36 year-old Yakel Culclager and her children 18 year-old Trequis Woods-Sims, 17 year-old Tradesia Woods-Sims, and six year-old Trevieon Woods-Franklin trapped inside.

Police say that the driver did not test positive for intoxication but they are investigating why the driver did not slow down when he approached the stalled vehicle. Traffic was halted for more than five hours while law enforcement investigated the horrific crash.

Semi Company Had History of Violations

Sunteck Transport Group employs the driver involved in Monday’s fatal tractor-trailer accident. The U.S. Department of Transportation has cited Sunteck Transport Group drivers 50 times during the past two years for violating hours of service regulations and record-keeping requirements. Hours of Service laws restrict the number of hours a driver can work in a workweek and a shift and mandates rest periods and time off between shifts. Drivers are required to keep accurate logs so that inspectors can determine whether they are obeying the hours of service rules. In five cases, Sunteck Transport Group kept their drivers on the road beyond the 14-hour duty period, which is the maximum allowable drive time before a rest break is required. In three cases, the drivers falsified records.

Law enforcement has not cited the semi driver or the trucking corporation and will look into whether sleep-deprivation played a part in the accident as well as other potential causes.
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Always Low Prices Is Not Always Safe

Wal-mart is synonymous with low prices. In an effort to drive prices as low as they can possibly go, the retail giant cuts costs at every opportunity, including forcing its employees to work excessively long hours for low pay. Whereas, this may be an unethical way to treat an employee in any job, when this policy is applied to its truck drivers, the policy is downright dangerous.

Yet, again, an overworked fatigued Wal-mart driver is responsible for a fatal accident. Last June, Wilbur Peterson’s semi skipped over the median and fatally hit Wiley Clark’s car head-on in Hawthorne, a small rural North Florida town near Jacksonville. 72 year-old at the time, Mr. Clark had just retired as a law enforcement investigator when his life was cut short in the horrific 18-wheeler accident.

Shockingly, on the day of the accident, Mr. Peterson had been behind the wheel for the 12th night in a row and had worked for 65 hours in the preceding week. In addition, he was traveling 17 mph over the posted speed limit in a tractor-trailer with tires worn down to 1/32nd of an inch in violation of federal truck maintenance laws.

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Big-Rig Crushed Victim’s Sports Car 

Early Monday morning, a man in his late 20s was killed when his sports car became wedged beneath a tractor-trailer. Two other people suffered minor injuries that were treated at the scene. The horrific 18-wheeler accident unfolded just after 5 a.m. near the eastbound Loop 820 on southbound Interstate 35W in Fort Worth. The road remained closed this morning during rush hour traffic as fire rescue tried to reach the man who was later announced dead. Police are still investigating the cause of the 18-wheeler crash.

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Tractor-Trailer Falls From Exit Ramp in Tragic Accident

Around midnight Tuesday morning, a tractor-trailer hauling furniture crashed on U.S. Highway 183 in Austin. The semi was traveling north on Research Boulevard service road and headed off the MoPac Boulevard exit when the driver rammed into a concrete barrier and flipped over the ramp. The truck landed upside down on the highway 10 feet below and burst into flames. The tractor-trailer driver was not able to escape the burning vehicle and died in the tragic accident. Police suspect a shifting load of furniture caused the truck to tumble over the highway on-ramp.

How Shifting Loads Contribute to 18-Wheeler Rollovers

The trailer’s high center of gravity and heavy weight contribute to its instability. When the 18-wheeler takes a curve, such as onto a highway ramp, the stability of the trailer may be compromised, particularly if:

  • The load is unbalanced and shifts during the turn
  • The driver takes the turn too fast
  • The driver turns too sharply or too little
  • The driver over-corrects for path errors
  • The driver is distracted or tired

Often, a combination of these factors causes the tractor-trailer to overturn.

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Corporation Tries to Shift Blame from its Sleep-Deprived Driver to Victims for Not Wearing Seat Belts

In a shocking legal maneuver, Wal-Mart has accused Tracy Morgan, the beloved star of 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live, and his dear friend James “Jimmy Mac” McNair of being at fault for the horrific fatal accident.

You will remember that earlier this summer, a speeding, drowsy Wal-Mart driver slammed into the limousine carrying comedians Tracy Morgan, Jimmy Mac and their friends as they headed home after a performance. The truck accident killed Jimmy Mac and so seriously injured Mr. Morgan that he may never be able to perform again.

Wal-Mart Claims Victims Acted Unreasonably

Although investigators cited the truck driver’s speed and sleeplessness as the only causes of the crash, the retail giant tried to shift the blame to the victims for not wearing seat belts in documents it filed in federal court Tuesday.

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Four players on the North Central Texas College softball team were tragically killed Friday night when a distracted tractor-trailer driver rammed into their van on Interstate 35. The team was returning to the Gainesville campus after a scrimmage game in southern Oklahoma earlier in the day when the fatal accident occurred.

All other occupants of the van were injured, including 12 other softball players and the coach, who was also the driver. Two of the young women remain hospitalized. The 18-wheeler driver, of course, only suffered minor injuries.

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