Mega-retailer Walmart has a fleet of semi-trucks to transport goods to and from distribution centers. As of 2022, the company has over 10,000 tractors, 80,000 trailers, and 12,000 drivers, making its private fleet one of the largest in the US.
However, just like other commercial trucks, Walmart tractor-trailers are inherently dangerous because of their size and weight. On average, a semi-truck weighs around 80,000 pounds and is 72 feet long. A vehicle of this size and mass has a natural tendency to cause massive amounts of destruction, injury, and death in an accident.
If you or a loved one were injured by a Walmart truck, you may be able to recover compensation from the company with a legal claim. The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC are here to help you and your family obtain the justice you deserve.
Contact our truck accident lawyers at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation to learn more about your legal options.
Walmart Truck Accidents in Recent Years
The following are some notable incidents involving Walmart trucks:
Tracy Morgan & James McNair Accident
The most infamous accident involving a Walmart truck occurred in June 2014, when a speeding truck crashed into the back of a limousine carrying comedians Tracy Morgan and James McNair, among others. McNair was killed; Morgan suffered a traumatic brain injury and several broken bones, and other passengers were injured.
According to the report, truck driver Kevin Roper had been awake for 28 hours before the June 7 crash. He drove 12 hours in his personal vehicle to work and was halfway done with the 13th hour of his 14-hour shift when the crash occurred. The driver reportedly fell asleep while driving 20 mph over the speed limit.
After the crash, the limo hit three other vehicles and rolled over before stopping on the New Jersey Turnpike. The driver was charged with vehicular homicide, and Walmart took “full responsibility” and settled with Tracy Morgan for an undisclosed amount. The court awarded James McNair’s children a $10 million settlement.
According to Morgan, he still experienced headaches and bouts of forgetfulness, a likely result of his brain trauma. Morgan was in a coma eight days after the accident and was wheelchair-bound for five months.
Multi-Vehicle Crash on the I-10
In July 2019, a crash involving multiple big rigs, including a Walmart truck, occurred on I-10 Eastbound near Luling, Texas. The truck was torn open, and another trailer was almost totaled in the accident. Authorities shut down the main lanes soon after.
Emergency crews said they had to use the jaws of life to save at least one person involved.
Non-Fatality & Non-Injury Accidents
As of 2022, most Walmart truck accidents did not lead to bodily harm. In 2019, a truck jackknifed while heading northbound toward the Turnpike on the Blue Route in Philadelphia. Authorities reported no injuries.
In July of the same year, a tractor-trailer and pick-up truck collided on the I-81 in Sullivan County, Tennessee. Authorities said the pick-up truck hydroplaned before being struck by the Walmart rig.
Another 2019 incident involved a truck driver illegally using a designated detour on a two-way road on Northwest Old Cornelius Pass Road in Washington County, Oregon. The truck got stuck on the curve and blocked traffic for several hours. Unlike the two previous incidents, this accident involved negligence rather than environmental conditions.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
There are several possible causes of a truck accident, including:
- Speeding: Driving beyond the maximum speed limit increases the risk of an accident, and if a crash does occur, severe injuries and death are more likely because of the heightened force of impact.
- Drowsy Driving: Federal regulations prohibit truck operators from working beyond 11 hours within 14 hour period and mandate at least 10 hours of rest before each shift. Unfortunately, some truckers go beyond maximum driving hours to meet deadlines, increasing the risk of causing a collision due to drowsy driving.
- Intoxication: Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.04% (the legal limit for commercial drivers) is considered driving under the influence. Truckers that drive drunk have more chances of causing an accident due to reduced coordination, impaired vision, and poor judgment.
- Inadequate Training: Walmart truckers earn some of the highest wages in the trucking industry. However, it is unclear whether drivers are receiving the training to operate a big rig safely.
- Aggressive Driving: Improper lane changing, tailgating, braking abruptly, and other reckless driving behaviors can lead to an accident in mere seconds.
- Poor Maintenance: Walmart is responsible for maintaining its vehicles regularly to avoid mechanical failures that can lead to an accident, such as tire blowouts, brake failures, engine problems, etc.
- Environmental Hazards: Some accidents occur due to wet roads, snow, ice, potholes, uneven pavement, and other hazards that may be impossible to avoid in some cases.
Why Are Companies Ultimately Responsible for Truck Accidents?
Even if the driver is directly at fault for an accident, the company that employs them may be liable for the victim’s damages. There are several reasons behind this argument:
- Companies often require drivers to work on tight margins, e.g., a truck’s driver would have to complete a route on time or receive a pay dock. High demands can force a driver to work while overfatigued, leading to an accident.
- Most truckers earn wages lower than how much they need for financial stability. Even though Walmart is competitive in its compensation for drivers, the company is still experiencing difficulties in hiring a sufficient workforce.
Hence, even Walmart truckers have still been unable to secure the financial stability they need. As a result, drivers work more hours to earn more money, which can cause accidents due to excessive fatigue, reckless driving, and illicit drugs.
- Walmart outsources to non-employee truckers. These operators are hired by contractors instead of the company and are under the care of independent employers. Hence, the company may have little control over safety training (beyond the initial program) and management, creating a risk for irresponsible behaviors.
What to Do if You Get into an Accident with a Walmart Truck
If you get into an accident involving a Walmart rig (or any company truck), here’s what you should do:
- Get To Safety. If possible, pull off to the side of the road to avoid further collisions with other vehicles. However, do not exit the vehicle on a busy highway. Apply first aid to any injured passengers.
- Call 911. Contact emergency services as soon as possible. Paramedics will arrive to help you or your injured passenger. The police will also be on the scene to assist everyone involved and divert traffic. The authorities may ask you to relay how the accident happened. In this case, do not admit fault.
- Document the Scene. Take pictures and videos of the accident scene. Exchange insurance information with the truck driver and other people involved. If there are witnesses, write down their names and contact information.
- Go to the Hospital. After the authorities allow you to leave the scene, seek medical treatment immediately, even if you feel uninjured. Prompt treatment is crucial for a swift and safe recovery. Moreover, you need a doctor’s assessment to prove your injuries later.
- Contact Your Insurance Company. You must contact your auto insurance provider within 24 hours of the accident.
- Call a Lawyer. Contact an attorney as soon as possible. They will help you review your legal options and recover financial compensation from Walmart and other liable parties.
How to Prove Fault in a Truck Collision
To file a legal claim, you must show the following are true:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to you. Truck operators must act reasonably and prudently to protect the safety and well-being of others. Similarly, Walmart is legally responsible for training every truck driver and ensuring all vehicles are in good working condition.
- The defendant breached this duty of care. You must show that the company or truck driver failed to meet their legal obligations to avoid harming others.
- You suffered significant injuries. You must show that you suffered substantial physical, emotional, mental, or financial harm from the accident.
- The defendant’s negligence directly led to your losses. You must also demonstrate that the defendant’s actions (or lack thereof) directly caused your damages, such as medical bills, emotional trauma, loss of quality of life, etc.
Your lawyer will help you collect substantial proof to establish the driver’s or company’s negligence, such as:
- Driver regulations that are not up to safety standards
- Surveillance footage, dashcam videos
- Vehicle maintenance records
- Driver employment records
- Police reports
- Medical records and photos of injuries
- Witness accounts
- Expert testimony
Who is Liable for Your Damages?
Anyone who risks the safety or causes injury to others may be liable for the injuries and other losses they cause. Responsible parties may include:
- Walmart truckers
- Non-employee truckers
- Walmart loading or maintenance team
- Manufacturers of faulty truck equipment
- Other drivers
- Pedestrians and motorcyclists
- Local governments
How to Handle Insurance Representatives
After you file a claim, insurance representatives from Walmart will likely reach out to you. However, insurance companies work for themselves and their clients, not claimants. Limiting contact with the company’s insurer and having your lawyer handle communications is best.
Furthermore, Walmart insurance adjusters may offer you a settlement, but this value will likely be lower than what you deserve. They may also use tactics to pay as little as possible for your claim, such as saying that the accident was your fault or pressuring you to accept the settlement or miss out on it.
Let your attorney take over your case to ensure you receive proper compensation. They will negotiate on your behalf and handle any disputes from Walmart that may arise.
What Damages Can You Recover from a Walmart Truck Accident Claim?
You may recover the following economic and non-economic damages:
- Medical Bills: Out-of-pocket expenses for hospitalization, emergency transportation, medication, surgery, therapy, and future medical expenses.
- Disability: Mobility aid expenses, rehabilitation costs, and other related damages if you become permanently disabled.
- Pain and Suffering: Payment for physical and emotional harm, including physical pain, emotional trauma, mental anguish, etc.
- Lost Wages: Salaries, wages, benefits, and revenue lost while recovering from your injuries or caring for an injured loved one.
- Property Damage: Replacement or repair expenses for personal property damaged or lost in the accident.
- Wrongful Death: Funeral and burial costs, pre-death medical bills, loss of consortium, grief therapy, and other related damages if your loved one dies in the crash.
Additionally, Walmart and other responsible parties may have to pay punitive damages, which are used to punish defendants for gross negligence.
Why You Should Hire an Attorney
Truck accidents are often complicated, especially when they involve mega-corporations like Walmart. Thus, you will need legal representation to go against the company and receive a fair settlement. Our attorneys will take over your case and:
- Investigate how and why the accident happened
- Determine liable parties, including other vehicles involved
- Collect evidence to support your claim
- Calculate how much money you should receive in recompense
- File your claim with the defendant’s insurer
- Negotiate a fair settlement
- File your case in civil court, if necessary
Talk to One of Our Experienced Lawyers Today
Large vehicles have a higher risk of causing devastation, making it an operator’s responsibility to abide by traffic regulations at all times.
Unfortunately, many truckers in the industry fail to abide by their legal obligation, and are often forced to stay awake for days or make illegal maneuvers to meet deadlines.
Our attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC stand by victims hurt by operators who risk their safety and well-being. If you or a loved one were hurt in a Walmart rig accident, our lawyers could help you and your passengers obtain the justice you deserve.
Contact our law firm at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Our lawyers handle all accepted cases on a contingency fee basis. This agreement ensures you don’t have to pay our legal fees unless we win your case.