Jacqueline: The truck driver involved in that deadly accident along the New Jersey turnpike is due in court tomorrow.
Keith: Comedian Tracy Morgan was severely injured Saturday when the tractor-trailer crashed into the back of his limo van. There are a lot of questions surrounding this accident and the truck driver charged . Legal expert Enrique Latoison joins us live from the Digital Operations Center with some insight in this case. Enrique, always good to see you. Thanks for joining us.
Enrique: Thank you.
Jacqueline: Enrique, there’s been a lot of discussion about the driver in this case. We know he has been charged with vehicular homicide. Why is this a crime – we know there is a fatality involved – a crime and not just an accident?
Enrique: Well, in New Jersey, there’s a law and it’s called Maggie’s law, and Maggie’s law was created to deal with drivers that are fatigued or been up over twenty-four hours or drowsy. It’s been… studies have proven that those who are drowsy are not only a danger to themselves, but they’re a danger to the public and New Jersey created this law and it says if you create a fatality while there’s an accident, you could be punished up to ten years in jail if it turns out that you were either up over twenty-four hours or that you were drowsy.
Keith: You know what? On that point right there, Enrique, the driver reportedly up for twenty-four hours straight prior to the crash. Just as you had said, is that automatically make him at fault?
Enrique: Well, it doesn’t automatically make him at fault. I mean, in any prosecution, you still have to prove causation. They’re still gonna have to prove their case. They’re gonna have to prove that he was actually up over twenty-four hours. Just like any other case, he’s innocent ‘till proven guilty. A lot of facts have come out already, but the prosecution is still gonna have to do their job and still gonna have to prove that because he was up over twenty-four hours, that was the cause of this accident, that the traffic was stand still when he crashed into the people, causing the fatality, and that falls under Maggie’s law and, therefore, that he should be found guilty.
Jacqueline: We know Walmart released a statement saying that if it’s determined that the truck is at fault, they would take full responsibility since this driver was driving for Walmart. Can the store be held liable in this case for the deadly accident? The company of Walmart?
Enrique: Well, the federal law says you can’t drive more than eleven hours as a truck driver and not more than fourteen hours during any one shift, so if the facts come out that Walmart somehow either pressured this driver or was aware of the fact that he was up over twenty-four hours or somehow made it so that he had no choice but to drive these hours to somehow meet deliveries for Walmart, then yes, Walmart will be liable and even could be even criminal-liable if it turns out there’s a direct supervisor from Walmart or someone who had a direct impact or influence on this driver to keep driving those hours. That’ll all come out. I mean, right now, we’ll have to see what happens, but yes, if they are somehow to blame for why this accident occurred or why this driver was actually up this long, then yes, they would be liable.
Keith: A lot still to find out. Attorney Enrique Latoison. Always good to have your insight. Thank you so much for joining us.
Enrique: Thank you.