Comic actor Tracy Morgan and three others are continuing to recuperate from critical injuries suffered last weekend when the limousine bus they were riding in was struck by a Wal-Mart tractor-trailer truck. One bus passenger died in that multi-vehicle wreck on Saturday.
Police claim the driver of the semi had gone without sleep for more than 24 hours. It's not clear what the basis of that claim is, but the suggestion seems to be that because of driver fatigue, the truck ended up crashing into the bus.
The driver has reportedly denied the allegation. Wal-Mart officials also are standing by the driver saying they believe he was in compliance with federal rules related to time behind the wheel. They say they are cooperating with the investigation.
Whether the police claims can be proven could be critical to the success of any efforts that might be made by surviving victims of the crash or the loved ones of the man who was killed to seek compensation for pain and suffering and to hold the driver or the company accountable.
Ohio attorneys practicing in the area of personal injury law know that driver fatigue is just one of many factors that can result in a deadly truck accident. If it can be proven that a driver chose to violate federal safety rules, it could be used to support claims of driver negligence and recklessness. And if it can be shown that the driver was pressed by managers to violate those rules, the company could also be held liable.
As things currently stand, the driver in this case is charged with one count of Death by Auto and four counts of Assault by Driving. He's scheduled to make his first appearance in court today and it would seem likely that authorities' claim of sleep deprivation will be brought into question.
Source: WCAU-TV, "Walmart: Driver in Tracy Morgan Crash Operated Within Federal Hours," Vince Lattanzio and David Chang, June 10, 2014