Judge says Wal-Mart trucking accident civil claim can proceed

Saturday February 14, 2015

As you probably remember, actor/comedian Tracy Morgan was seriously injured and another veteran comedian died in a horrible accident involving a Wal-Mart semi-truck last summer.

Morgan and company were riding in a van when the driver of the semi crashed into them from behind after failing to apply the brakes for slowed traffic in a construction zone.

Soon after the accident, police determined that the truck driver had not slept in at least 24 hours prior to the crash, suggesting that he may have fallen asleep before slamming into the back of the van.

Morgan suffered a traumatic brain injury and was in a coma for days following the accident. Comedian James McNair died in the wreck.

Not surprisingly, Morgan and others have filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart, alleging that its truck driver was negligent or grossly negligent.

The trucker also faces criminal charges vehicular homicide and assault by auto.

Recently, Bloomberg News reported that the truck driver asked to intervene in the civil lawsuit against Wal-Mart so that he could put the case on hold until his criminal case has finished, but the court rejected the request.

The trucker said he wished to enter the civil case and stop it temporarily to prevent findings in that case from affecting his criminal case, but a judge ruled that the civil case may continue.

The judge reasoned that the trucker could not point to any case law “in which a criminal defendant was allowed to intervene in a civil case in which he was not named to protect his rights in his criminal case.”

Ultimately, this is an example of how complex civil personal injury cases can get when there are also criminal charges pending against one or more of the parties involved.

Criminal charges can be filed in addition to civil claims when the defendants were more than just negligent, they broke the law.

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