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Tracy Morgan and the Dangers of Tired Truck Drivers

Everyday, on our nation’s highways, large trucks, some weighing as much as 80,000 pounds, are involved in crashes. Plaintiff lawyers and victims of accidents involving 18- wheelers have been lobbying for years to get reasonable limitations on the amount of hours an interstate truck driver can work without prescribed rest periods. Last July 1 (2013) new rules enacted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) went into effect to hopefully limit the number of crashes caused by truck driver fatigue, found to be the leading cause of truck accidents. Some of the provisions of the law are being questioned by lawmakers who hope to reduce the restrictions. Perhaps Tracy Morgan’s well publicized accident will be the beginning of more safety restrictions and hopefully will save more lives.

In the early morning hours of Saturday June 7, 2014, Morgan and four of his friends were traveling north on he New Jersey Turnpike in a limo van being driven by a professional driver. Another professional driver, Kevin Ropel, 35, a driver for Walmart, caused a crash that killed comedian James McNair ( known as “Jimmy Mack”), severely injured Morgan and also injured two other comedians in the van, Ardie Fuqua and Jeffery Millea. The cause of the crash is believed to be “driver fatigue” on he part of Roper. Roper has been charged criminally in the crash and could serve jail time. Although the investigation is ongoing, news that Roper lives in Georgia but works out of Delaware, has been reported. The long drive to work could easily have caused him to be less than awake at the time of the crash. Walmart has taken the public stance, that if their driver is at-fault, then they are responsible for the injuries and death. Walmart and other carriers should not only make sure that their driver’s are following the law with regard to hours worked and prescribed rest periods, but should go further, and interview their drivers before every shift to make sure that they are physically, emotionally and rested to drive their trucks.

Our team of Miami truck accident lawyers have seen in far too many trucking cases that we have handled how drivers were tired, had worked too many hours without rest and felt pressured by their employer or client to “get the goods delivered.” Many drivers are paid by the load and feel that if they can perform their route in a shorter period of time, then they could earn more. No lawyer is against people making more money, but, the money should not be at the expense of safety. The trucking industry must make it easier for drivers to earn a living while being safe on the roadways.

The Federal Rest Guidelines for Truckers restrict how much driving a driver can do between 1-5 am. This is one section of the law that some lawmakers are looking to modify by loosing the limitations. Morgan’s accident happened between 1-5 am. Many crashes involving trucks happen during those hours because truck drivers are fatigued and being tired often leads to mistakes which result in accidents and severe injuries and lives lost.

Call or write your lawmaker and insist that they review the current law, hold hearings and enact new laws to make our roads safe for all of us.

We have experienced, first hand as lawyers, the devastation truck crashes leave behind. We as citizens and drivers should demand that our lawmakers do more to make our roads safer. Please don’t sit back and ignore this pressing issue. Lives are being lost and destroyed every day that passes. Don’t wait until a tragedy strikes you or a friend or loved one. No law can prevent every accident, but, if there are things that can be done to make travel safer, where do I sign? Motor carriers (large trucking companies such as Walmart) have lobbyists who spend a fortune to sway legislators to “vote their way” on a bill. We, the people also have power. It’s called “The Vote.” If our elected representatives want to sell out to big business at the expense of the rest of us, let’s make sure that they know that they will be help accountable. We need to let our lawmakers know that in America, if you do something negligent which harms another, you are responsible, financially and perhaps criminally. Not every crash should result in criminal charges. That is fact specific and up to the State to decide. But, tractor trailer accidents leave victims often with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost wages, physical limitations and emotional scars. Motor carriers should be forced to carry higher limits of mandatory liability insurance to compensate victims fairly. The trucking companies and retailers argue that higher insurance coverage will increase costs. What they don’t tell the public, is that for every victim where there is insufficient coverage, we as tax paying citizens pick up the tab for their actions. It’s time we said, “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!”

If you or someone you love has been injured in a trucking accident, we urge you to contact the South Florida law office of Greenberg Stone and Urbano today.

Our team has over 120 years of combined experience and we have aggressively represented the victims of trucking accidents throughout our state. Our devotion to excellence in providing legal services has earned us an “AV” rating from Martindale Hubbell, and it is why we have been invited to join Primerus, an international society of leading law firms. Furthermore, the Miami Herald voted us as one of the top-rated South Florida law firms, and, we have earned the title of “Superlawyers,” designating us as being among the best lawyers in America. We want to put this dedication to work for you, so call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule an initial consultation. Thanks for reading.

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