Readers may remember the crash, which received a great deal of media attention at the time. Morgan was riding in a limousine when the vehicle was struck by a semi truck, which belonged to Walmart. The impact killed James McNair, another comic and close friend of Morgan’s. Besides sustaining a brain injury, Morgan suffered broken ribs and a broken leg. Two other passengers in the limo were also badly hurt.
Morgan was able to pursue damages from Walmart instead of the driver due to the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, which holds employers liable for injuries caused by negligent employees “in the course of their employment.” This rule requires employers to keep reasonably close control of their employees’ conduct. Morgan settled the suit in 2015.
Thereafter, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded in August that the driver was mostly at fault for the victims’ injuries. An August report said the trucker had been awake for 28 straight hours before the wreck, which clearly caused fatigue. Driver fatigue is a major cause of truck accidents in the U.S.
As a result of this report and other investigating, criminal charges were pursued. In December, a grand jury indicted the driver on 10 criminal counts, including aggravated manslaughter, vehicular homicide and aggravated assault.