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You might have read the sad news from the entertainment world recently about the trucking accident that killed a comedian and injured TV star Tracy Morgan. According to news reports, Morgan had hired a driver and a limo bus to take himself and some fellow comedians home from a show in Delaware. Kevin Roper was the driver that allegedly caused the trucking accident. Roper is a Wal-Mart truck driver and was driving an 18-wheeler owned by Wal-Mart at the time of the trucking accident. Prosecutors say that Roper failed to slow for traffic ahead and swerved at the last minute while trying to avoid hitting the car in front of him. In doing so, he smashed his truck into the back of the limo. Comedian James McNair was killed in the trucking accident, and Morgan is currently in critical condition. The other passengers in the limo were also seriously hurt. The Wal-Mart driver has been charged with death by auto and four counts of assault under New Jersey law. According to the complaint, the driver had been operating the truck “without having slept for a period in excess of 24 hours” prior to the trucking accident.
Federal law sets rules and regulations for truck drivers that are quite different from the regulations that govern the drivers of passenger cars. The law requires that truck drivers can only work a maximum of 14 hours, with only 11 of those hours consisting of actual driving time. They are also required to have a minimum of 10 hours off to sleep between shifts. The federal law recognizes that tired truck drivers pose a special risk to the public. A large truck can cause extraordinary amounts of damage. Wal-Mart has said through a spokesman that if authorities find that their driver was the cause of the trucking accident, they will “take full responsibility.” My guess is that Wal-Mart would not be saying that publicly if this were not a celebrity case. Far too often, the owners and operators of trucking companies will not take any responsibility for trucking accidents. They know that trucking accidents are much more complex than standard automobile accidents and that many lawyers do not know how to handle the complex federal laws that govern trucking accidents. The O’Keefe Firm understands what needs to be done in a trucking accident and will work hard to protect your interests and help you and your family through this difficult time. Call us for a free consultation at 937-643-0600.