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Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on June 11th, 2014,
by Zane Cagle

Fatigue May Be Blamed for Truck Crash Involving Tracy Morgan

Posted on June 11th, 2014 by Zane Cagle

Truck Crash Involving Tracy Morgan: Updated FindingsTruck Crash Involving Tracy Morgan: Updated Findings

Updated story 8/12/15): The National Transportation Safety Board(NTB)’s evaluation of the 2014 crash that seriously injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed fellow comedian Jimmy McNair was investigated.  They found “A truck driver’s fatigue—exacerbated by his decision to drive 12 hours to work before he even started his 14 hour shift-likely cause the June 2014 crash” (CNN) As well, the occupants in the limo van were not wearing seat belts or using properly adjusted head restraints, a factor that contributed to the severity of their injuries. (CNN) in Cranbury Township, New Jersey.

According to initial crash reports, a semi-truck driver apparently failed to slow for traffic ahead and then swerved to avoid a crash. Instead,the big rig smashed into the back of the Morgan’s chauffeured limo bus, resulting in the serious injury of four including Morgan and the death of one.  Under New Jersey law, a person can be charged with assault by auto if he or she causes injury after knowingly operates a vehicle after being awake for more than 24 hours. According to the criminal complaint, it says the driver operated the truck, “without having slept for a period in excess of 24 hours resulting in a motor vehicle accident”.

The accident apparently occurred in a chronically congested area of the New Jersey Turnpike where a five-year widening project is expected to be completed.

The truck driver has been charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto.  It is reported that the truck driver may not have slept for more than 24 hours before the accident. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has regulations regarding Hours of Service for commercial drivers.  If, in fact, the driver had not slept in 24 hours, that would be a violation of the Hours of Service regulations of the FMCSA.

Truck Driver Fatigue

This last February, a semi-truck accident on Interstate 88 resulted in the death of a toll way worker and serious injury to an Illinois trooper.  As well, in that incident, the driver was reported to have been driving an extended time without rest when he rear-ended another semi-truck that was broken down on the side of Interstate 88 in Illinois. The toll worker and the  State Trooper were assisting the stranded semi-truck when the other semi-truck ran into it . Personal injury suits have been filed against the driver and possibly the motor carrier.

Truck driver fatigue is a critical problem on our highways. When semi-trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, they can cause a great deal of destruction when colliding into a passenger vehicle.  Fatigued truck drivers have slower reaction times. Therefore, the FMCSA sets regulations for all commercial drivers and motor carriers operating trucks in the United States.

Of course, the accident involving Tracy Morgan is still under investigation and the trial of the semi-truck driver involved in the Illinois I-88 crash has not been decided, it draws our attention to the very real danger of truck drivers who are driving fatigued.  Like everyone, truck drivers are trying to make a living.  If the truck driver employer sets unreasonable timelines thus forcing drivers to drive when fatigued, then the problem is bigger than just the driver’s choice.  Ultimately, the choice to drive while fatigued is that, a choice.

Taking Responsibility for Choices

When each of us climbs behind the wheel, we are responsible for the choices we make while driving. Choosing to drive while impaired whether it is alcohol or fatigue is still a choice.  When someone is injured or killed due to the act of another, it can be a case of negligence.  If a driver is negligent and causes or contributes to the injury or death of another, they can be held liable for damages.

The cause of a semi-truck accident often is triggered hours, days or weeks before the actual accident. If a truck is not maintained properly, that can occur weeks before the actual crash.  When one first reads about the accident involving Tracy Morgan, we see that the driver swerved and then rear-ended the passenger limo bus, however, the decision to drive fatigued may have occurred hours before.  Therefore, a thorough investigation is always required to determine what decisions and actions contributed to the accident.

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and have been injured or if your loved one was injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident, you may need a personal injury attorney. Consultations are always free and expert accident attorneys are available to speak with you and answer your questions 7 days a week.

Call us at (314) 276-1681