Comedian Tracy Morgan has filed a lawsuit against Walmart, claiming the retailer should be held responsible for last month's accident in which a Walmart truck rammed into Morgan's bus, injuring three and killing one.
As Morgan pursues his negligence lawsuit against the company, what will likely be the key aspects of his case, and what lessons can be learned about truck accidents in general?
Here are three legal tips for plaintiffs in truck accident lawsuits:
Vicarious liability may work in your favor. Vicarious liability is the legal concept that makes employers potentially liable for the negligent acts of their employees. In Tracy Morgan's case, he wants Walmart to be held liable for the alleged negligence of its driver. To succeed, Morgan will first have to prove that the driver's accident occurred "in the course of his employment" with Walmart; if the driver was acting on his own, and not at the direction of his employer, then vicarious liability may not apply.
A criminal case can help you establish fault. Following the accident, the driver of the truck was arrested and charged with vehicular homicide and four counts of assault by auto. In truck accident cases, a conviction in criminal court can be used to prove the driver was at fault in the accident. In this case, the criminal charges are based on allegations that the truck driver had been awake for more than 24 hours at the time of the accident. If he is convicted, that may help Morgan prove not just the fault of the driver, but also the fault of Walmart, which the suit alleges was negligent in letting the truck driver continue driving without sleep.
Keep a detailed list of all your damages. It is important that you have a record of any damages you are claiming to have suffered as a result of an accident. These damages are not just limited to medical expenses or lost wages, but can also include pain and suffering, as well as the loss of your companionship by your spouse or other family members. Known as loss of consortium, this cause of action can be brought by family members of an injured party to compensate for the loss of companionship, services, and even sexual relations with an injured or deceased party. As part of Tracy Morgan's lawsuit, the pregnant wife of one of the crash victims is suing Walmart for the loss of her husband's love and services following the accident. Not sure which damages to pursue? An experienced truck accident lawyer can help you figure it out.
Of course, there are many other issues that can come into play in a commercial truck accident, depending on the circumstances. To learn more, check out FindLaw's section on Truck Accidents.