North Carolina Mother Files Wrongful Death Claim Against FMCSA for Keeping Unsafe Driver on the Road
As a Missouri semi truck accident attorney, I’ve written here many times about the importance of strong regulations and strong enforcement to keep unsafe drivers off the road. So I was interested to see a July 7 article about a woman in North Carolina who is suing the agency responsible for those regulations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, for allowing a known law-breaker to continue driving. Jackie Novak lost her son, Chuck Novak, last October when a truck driver slammed into a line of cars on Interstate 26 in western North Carolina. After the crash, Jackie Novak’s claim says, it was revealed that driver Rouman Velkov had multiple safety violations.
Velkov worked for Globe Carrier Co. when he slammed into nine cars last Oct. 24, killing Chuck Novak, 22, and four others. At the time, he was not medically cleared to drive a commercial truck. He also had a record of safety violations, including going over the maximum allowable hours of driving per day as well as falsifying his hours of service logs. A safety audit conducted Nov. 9, after the crash, found that he had violated HOS rules that day as well. Jackie Novak’s claim against the FMCSA faults the agency for failing to take Velkov off the road despite Globe Carrier’s record of safety violations. She asked for a panel at the FMCSA to review truck safety policies, and also for $1 million, but told the newspaper that she would rather have the panel, because “They could pay me $20 million and I would never get my son back.”
This is a sentiment I commonly hear in my work as a southern Illinois tractor-trailer accident lawyer. Grieving families know all too well that a lawsuit will not bring their loved ones back, but hope to make the roads safer. In most cases, they sue the trucking company responsible for the safety violations. Jackie Novak’s case is unusual in that it asks the FMCSA to better enforce its own rules and, as an afterthought, for money. She and her attorney know very well that they will not be able to sue the FMCSA in court (because of a legal doctrine called sovereign immunity), which means this claim is essentially a cry of protest against the FMCSA’s lax enforcement. I strongly agree that the agency can do better than it did with Globe Carrier.
At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we represent clients who were seriously injured or lost a loved one in a trucking accident that was no fault of their own. Not every driver is unsafe, but when drivers are allowed to drive without a valid license, speed, ignore drug tests and more, they put everyone around them in unnecessary and unreasonable danger. In many cases, the trucking companies know about or even create the unsafe situation, but allow it to continue because breaking the law is less expensive than complying. Our St. Louis 18-wheeler accident attorneys represent people who suffered injuries, permanent disabilities or a death in the family because of these policies. We help victims claim financial compensation for their losses, pain and suffering and all costs of the accident, especially high medical bills.
If you or someone you love was seriously hurt by a trucker who should never have been on the road, you should call Carey, Danis & Lowe for help today. For a free, confidential case evaluation, send us an email or call 1-877-678-3400.
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