Media coverage of a particular truck accident has remained widespread since the collision occurred on Saturday, June 7. This incident has received a lot of attention due to the fact that it involved Tracy Morgan, a comedian that is well known across the country.
Although the involvement of a celebrity may have drawn the nationwide scrutiny, a possible contributing factor has been identified that is an issue in about 100,000 accidents per year -- according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Those collisions result in approximately 40,000 injuries suffered by those involved and 1,550 fatalities.
If you are thinking that this discussion will turn to one about drunk driving, you’d be wrong. Although it impairs a driver in much the same was as alcohol, we are actually talking about a lack of sleep. Investigators determined that the driver of the truck may have been awake for at least 24 hours prior to the collision.
Although federal trucking law heavily restricts the amount of hours a truck driver can be on the road, on the clock and required to rest, the report did not indicate whether there were hours-of-service violations in this case. Even if evidence shows that the individual was not on the clock for a period that violates the federal regulations, this does not bar recovery in a personal injury lawsuit involving drowsy driving.
A civil lawsuit does not depend on whether or not laws were broken that could lead to citations or criminal sanctions. A tort claim requires proof of negligence, and truck driver fatigue can be considered careless regardless of whether it was related to employment or caused by some other reason.
Louisiana personal injury law does not differentiate between one case and another due to celebrity or public figure status. Every victim that is harmed by another’s negligence has the same right to seek compensation for the damages that they suffered as a result.
Source: The Washington Post, “Trucker in Tracy Morgan crash hadn’t slept for more than 24 hours,” Gail Sullivan, June 10, 2014