After Tracy Morgan was injured last year in a horrific crash on the New Jersey Turnpike, all of us watched his road to recovery with interest: not only because we are fans of Mr. Morgan, but because his injuries were so severe there was a possibility that he might never walk unimpeded again. The crash was serious enough to kill one of the passengers in Mr. Morgan’s limousine, James ‘Jimmy Mack’ McNair, and Wal-Mart spent months staunchly denying any responsibility for the accident.
As of May 27th – almost a full year since the accident – “Tracy Morgan and other people injured in a crash with a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. truck last year have reached an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed sum” according to a Reuters news article. According to the documents, Mr. Morgan, Ardley Fuqua Jr. and Jeffrey and Krista Millea – all of whom brought a suit against Wal-Mart – requested that the details of the settlement be kept confidential. The children of Mr. McNair settled their lawsuit against Wal-Mart in January for approximately $10 million.
Thought Wal-Mart originally claimed that the injuries sustained by the victims were – at least partially, if not wholly – their own faults for not wearing seatbelts, the retail giant has since changed its stance and is now taking responsibility for the accident.
Why settling was the right choice
Because the accident happened on the NJ Turnpike, the court case would have been tried in that state – and New Jersey has a “modified” comparative fault law. Under that law, if a plaintiff is found more than 50% responsible for the actions which caused his or her injuries, that plaintiff would not be able to recover any compensation. In this case, Mr. Morgan and his friends were not responsible for the accident, but by not wearing their seatbelts, it is possible a jury could have found them 50% responsible for their injuries, which would have barred them from compensation. By choosing to settle the case, Mr. Morgan, Mr. Fuqua and the Milleas were assured of compensation, and in this case that may have been the smartest choice.
We are happy that the victims finally have resolution. We understand the risks involved in these types of cases: in Maryland, it is even more challenging because of our contributory negligence law, which bars any compensation if the injured person is even one percent at fault for their injuries.
Plaxen & Adler, P.A. offers comprehensive counsel to victims of auto accidents throughout the state of Maryland. If you have been hurt in a truck-related crash, or have questions about filing a personal injury lawsuit in Maryland, we invite you to contact us to find out more.
Learn more about the Tracy Morgan case: