What Causes Semi Truck Crashes? | House Law LLC

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What Causes Semi Truck Crashes?

Owner-operators are under intense economic pressure to drive as much as possible and as fast as possible. Their profit margins are usually about 5%. So, for every $20 they earn, they keep $1. Making matters worse, most shipping companies pay drivers by the load instead of by the mile. So, if they miss an early delivery or on-time bonus, that could be the difference between making money and losing money on a particular run. This economic environment often sets the stage for semi truck crashes. These vehicles weigh about 80,000 pounds when they are fully loaded. That size creates an almost unbelievable amount of force in a high-speed wreck.

Since these victims often sustain serious injuries, a Kansas City personal injury attorney can often obtain substantial compensation in these cases. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Under the respondeat superior rule, the shipping company, and not the individual driver, is usually financially responsible for these damages.


Determining the cause of a crash is often the first step in a claim for compensation. Once an attorney knows the cause, it is easier to collect and analyze evidence.

Drowsiness is a common problem among truckers. As mentioned, these individuals often stay on the road as long as possible. Additionally, in light of the coronavirus outbreak, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently said it would waive some HOS (hours of service) restrictions. It is uncertain when, or if, those restrictions will be reinstated.

Hours of drive time sometimes has nothing to do with a drowsy driving wreck. Truckers are often behind the wheel late at night or early in the morning. Most people are naturally drowsy at these times, even if they had a full night’s sleep. Circadian rhythm fatigue is worse when people alter their daily schedules.

Truckers are at risk for fatigue issues. Many truckers develop sleep apnea, since they sit for extended periods. People with this condition wake up feeling tired even after a full night’s sleep. Sleep apnea deprives people of deep, restorative sleep.

Drowsiness and alcohol have roughly the same effect on the brain and body. Driving after 18 consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level. That is above the legal limit for commercial operators in Missouri.


Excessive velocity is a factor in about a third of the fatal vehicle collisions in Missouri. Large, heavy trucks accelerate quickly downhill and are difficult to slow down safely. So, speed increases the risk of a collision and the force in a collision.

Speed increases stopping distance. At 60mph, these vehicles travel about 18 truck lengths before the operator can safely stop the vehicle.

Velocity also increases the force in a collision, according to Newton’s Second Law of Motion. In simple terms, speed transforms non-injury fender-benders into serious injury wrecks.

Like fatigue, excessive speed could involve ordinary negligence or the negligence per se doctrine. Driving while fatigued arguably breaches the duty of care, as does driving too fast for the conditions. Ordinary negligence is easier to prove in commercial cases because the duty of care is higher. Also, if truckers violate HOS restrictions or drive above the speed limit and cause semi truck crashes, they could be liable for damages as a matter of law. That is the essence of negligence per se.

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If you have been injured due to another person’s negligence, call Aaron House at 816-875-4260 today for a free consultation.


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