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Semi Truck Driving with Blurred City Lights

Missouri Semi Driver Charged With Manslaughter After High Speed Crash

April 1, 2022

A recent tragic event highlights the dangers of semi trucks to others on the roadways. A truck driver named Kevin Brunson was recently indicted in Boone County, Missouri on the charge of 1st Degree Manslaughter for his dangerous driving of a semi in December along I-70 that caused the death of Boone County’s assistant fire chief.

The deceased, a 58-year-old career public servant, was stopped in his government vehicle re-routing traffic around a previous collision with his emergency lights activated. According to witnesses, Brunson, who was operating a 2021 Freightliner Cascadia 116 semi, struck the fire department vehicle at highway speeds, then hit a disabled box truck and plowed into the rear of a University Medical Center ambulance. Some witnesses said Brunson was traveling too fast for conditions.

In the state of Missouri, 1st Degree Involuntary Manslaughter is a Class B or C felony and results from “recklessly causing the death of another person or criminally negligently causing a person’s death while operating a vehicle or boat in an intoxicated condition.” The maximum penalty for the charge of 1st Degree Involuntary Manslaughter ranges from 5-15 years in prison for a Class B felony, depending on the individual case circumstances, and up to 7 years in prison for a Class C felony and fines up to $5,000.

No matter the outcome of a criminal case involving involuntary manslaughter, the deceased fire chief’s family has the right to pursue a wrongful death claim in civil court. In such cases, the family may hold not only the semi driver accountable for the death of their loved one but also the trucking company that employed the driver.

In Missouri and Kansas civil courts, trucking companies may also be held liable under the theories of negligent entrustment, negligent hiring and retention and negligent supervision. These can be further explained as follows:

Negligent Entrustment – when a trucking company allows a driver who they knew to be or should have known to be incompetent, based upon age, inexperience, habitual recklessness or other circumstances, to continue driving under their employment.

Negligent Retention/Hiring – when a trucking company hires or fails to terminate a driver when they knew or should have known that the individual was not qualified to operate or continue operating a semi, posing a substantial risk to the public.

Negligent Supervision – when a trucking company fails to properly supervise a driver who creates an undue risk to the public.

Statistically, in the United States a person is injured or killed in an accident involving a semi truck every 15 minutes. These collisions are increasingly common in today’s world with the high demand for the transport of consumer goods across the country. Common injuries from these types of collisions include injuries to the neck and back, head/brain injuries, broken bones, internal bleeding, lacerations and bruising, and whiplash from seatbelts.

Semi trucks are necessary but dangerous to others on the roadway. The involvement of large commercial vehicles in motor vehicle collisions greatly increases the risk of serious injury and/or death. The larger the size of the vehicles involved, the worse the outcome of a collision may be. Large commercial vehicles are more likely to be involved in a collision due to their increased weight, requiring longer distances to stop in emergencies and limited maneuverability.

If you or your loved one has been seriously injured or killed in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, specialized knowledge and skill level are needed to hold transportation companies liable for such careless actions. Kendall Law Group has handled many successful transportation injury cases and is not afraid to stand up for you against large companies. Often such large injury claims require litigation, where experience matters.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a transportation company, give us a call for a complimentary case evaluation with an experienced attorney or sign up here.