Personal injury claims that spring from commercial vehicle crashes are often complex due to the involvement of multiple parties who could potentially be held liable. That includes the driver, the driver’s employer, and sometimes even a third party such as the vehicle manufacturer.
The stakes tend to be very high in these cases because semi-truck accidents often cause devastating injuries and extensive property damage. The injured party seeks financial recovery commensurate with their losses, while the at-fault party or their insurance company seeks to avoid paying out such a large sum.
In addition to these factors, commercial vehicle accident cases can be even more challenging for the injured party when the trucking company at the center is a large and powerful corporation like Walmart. Walmart has vast resources at its disposal to defend itself against legal liability, making it more difficult to successfully pursue compensation if you do not have experienced advocates on your side.
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How Walmart Handled Its Most High-Profile Truck Accident Case
According to Walmart’s corporate website, it owns approximately six thousand trucks in the United States that collectively log millions of miles each year. A company with a fleet of that size is bound to make occasional mistakes that can result in devastating accidents, painful injuries, and tragic deaths.
One example of this is the 2014 crash involving actor and comedian Tracy Morgan. A Walmart semi truck rear-ended a limo bus that the actor and others occupied at the time, killing comedian James McNair and leaving Morgan with a traumatic brain injury, broken ribs, and a broken leg. Other passengers also sustained injuries.
It was later discovered that the driver had been awake for more than 28 hours. He had driven 12 hours to a Walmart facility before beginning his 14-hour shift making deliveries for Walmart. Fatigue contributed to his failure to recognize slow-moving traffic ahead, leaving him without adequate time to react.
While this was not an hours-of-service violation and neither the trucker nor Walmart had broken any rules, it was clearly an error in judgment on behalf of the driver. The mistakes that led to the accident resulted in Walmart beginning to require drivers to live within 250 miles of the place they report to work, or be at that starting point at least nine hours before their shift begins. In response to the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued new recommendations including fatigue management training.
Walmart agreed to pay for the damages on its own as a self-insured party and is reported to have paid Morgan and one other injured passenger $90 million. Walmart then reached a settlement with its insurers for reimbursement, although that amount is not disclosed to the public.
What Are the Challenges of Suing a Large Company Like Walmart?
Ultimately, the notoriety of that particular case is likely to have led to a more expedient, favorable outcome for Morgan and the other injured passenger than would otherwise be conceivable. A lower profile case could potentially look very different. In fact, in most cases, companies like Walmart do everything in their power, using extensive legal resources, to avoid taking responsibility.
This is especially true when it comes to companies that are “self-insured” parties. That means that instead of purchasing insurance through an insurance provider, they have the means to assume the risk themselves to a certain amount. Any amount beyond that may be covered by excess insurance through insurance providers. Because Walmart is responsible for paying damages itself, it is even more motivated than a traditionally insured company to mitigate the financial damage.
How Can an Austin Truck Accident Lawyer Help?
Filing a personal injury claim against one of the largest retail companies in the US can be intimidating, and for good reason. Walmart has lawyers on staff who frequently handle personal injury cases and will challenge the claim, possibly resulting in the case going to court. But their aggressive tactics should never stop a victim injured on Austin roads from seeking financial recovery for losses caused by the accident, such as medical bills, missed paychecks, reduced ability to work, or loss of quality of life.
Thankfully, you can attain critical advocacy and resources by hiring a truck accident injury lawyer. At FVF, our experienced truck accident lawyers have helped many Austin semi-truck accident victims obtain financial recovery from corporations and begin to move on with their lives. We offer free, no-pressure evaluations so that you can understand your options and benefit from our extensive experience fighting corporations on behalf of injured individuals. Contact us today to schedule your free evaluation.