Personal Injury: Who Is At Fault?

Wal-Mart Claims Tracy Morgan And Friends Are At Fault For Injuries Suffered In Crash

Tracy Morgan filed his personal injury lawsuit against Walmart in July, and on August 29th, the company filed its answer. In addition to denying liability for the injuries that Morgan and the other passengers received when their limo-bus was hit by a Walmart semi-truck, Walmart claimed the damage was Morgan and the other passengers’ fault. CNN reports that Walmart’s answer asserts Morgan’s injuries were “caused, in whole or in part, by plaintiffs’ failure to properly wear an appropriate available seat belt restraint device.” Although a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board found that the Walmart truck driver was speeding and was sleep deprived when he hit Morgan’s vehicle, that does not mean Wal-Mart automatically loses the lawsuit case. If a court finds that the Wal-Mart semi-truck driver was also negligent by not wearing a seatbelt, it could potentially reduce or even block his recovery in court.

Comparative Fault In Morgan VS. Wal-Mart

Contributory negligence is where a victim’s action or inaction contributes to a result. Contributory negligence laws can prevent a plaintiff like Morgan from recovering a portion or any personal injury damages if his negligence is responsible for his injuries. New Jersey, where the crash occurred, applies a “modified” form of contributory negligence called comparative fault.

New Jersey has Modified Comparative Fault, meaning if a plaintiff’s negligence is not greater than that of the defendant, plaintiff can recover but will find his damages proportionately reduced. Arkansas, where Walmart is headquartered, has a similar view of negligence and recovery. Arkansas has Modified Comparative Fault, meaning Plaintiff’s recovery will be barred if he is found 50% or more at fault.

Pure Comparative Fault In Arizona

Twelve states recognize the Pure Comparative Fault Rule, which allows a damaged party to recover even if it is 99% at fault, although the recovery is reduced by the damaged party’s degree of fault. These states include Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington. The comparative fault/negligence systems for Arizona’s jurisdiction break down is Pure Comparative Fault, meaning the Plaintiff’s awarded damages will be reduced by his share of the fault.

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