The truck accident that caused personal injuries to comedian Tracy Morgan elicited some news stories recently when Walmart filed a routine set of legal documents that seemed to blame him for his own personal injuries The documents said Tracy Morgan’s injuries were caused, in whole or part, by his own failure to wear a seatbelt.
Any personal injury attorney can tell you this is very standard language filed in a very routine court filing. The Defendant (in this case, Walmart) is required to file an Answer to the Complaint that lists all of their defenses. They usually list every single one, so they can preserve the right to argue about them later. It is undoubtedly true that Walmart will argue that Tracy Morgan’s personal injuries were made worse because he failed to wear a seat belt. Whether that goes anywhere or not is up to the jury. I doubt it impacts much, but they will argue anything and everything available.
Tracy Morgan took the opportunity to issue a statement saying he couldn’t believe Walmart was blaming him for his injuries. Well I can tell you that this is standard operating procedure for any defendant in a personal injury lawsuit, usually being represented by an insurance company. They will always try to blame you for your own car accident or your own personal injuries if they have the slightest chance. It seems very unfair, and it makes most of my clients very angry. But it is a routine (unfortunately) part of our system.
Ultimately, the Judge or Jury is the one who decides if such claims have any merit. But you can believe those claims will be made on a regular basis.