Risks of Defective Highway Guardrails
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Nancy J. Winkler with Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C..
Highway guardrails exist to keep people safe on the road. These guardrails are intended to keep vehicles from accidentally driving off roadways, avoid obstacles, or to separate oncoming traffic, especially in the case of accidents. While these guardrails can be invaluable to saving lives, when a guardrail is defective, the consequences can be disastrous.
If you or a loved one suffered due to defective highway guardrails, reach out to a car accident attorney as soon as possible. The injuries from defective guardrail accidents can be life-changing; filing a personal injury claim can help cover damages including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Guardrails are designed to absorb impact in the event of a crash.
One of the biggest dangers in the event of a car accident comes from the impact of the collision. Whether the impact occurs between two vehicles or between a vehicle and another object like a tree or cliffside, the risks can be significant. Traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and more are unfortunately common in severe collisions. The presence of highway guardrails can prevent many of these injuries by absorbing some of the impact that would otherwise have directly affected the driver and passengers. However, a defective guardrail can present its own dangers.
Defective guardrails can behave more like long, metal spears than safety devices.
Guardrails are ideally designed to crumple upon impact. This crumpling is a method of impact absorption; allowing the damage to be sustained by the railing rather than the vehicle. However, if a guardrail is not made properly, it may lose its ability to crumple, instead making it a dangerous obstacle in itself. Defective guardrails have been known to act as spears rather than impact absorption devices, piercing vehicles and injuring the passengers inside far more than might have otherwise happened.
Amputations and impalement are significant risks presented by defective guardrails.
When a defective guardrail fails to crumple and instead pierces someone’s vehicle, the risk of catastrophic injury increases exponentially. Victims of defective guardrail crashes have suffered amputations and impalement as a result of the guardrail spearing their vehicle. These injuries have resulted in drastic life-changes and in some cases death for their victims. Some guardrail manufacturers have experienced particular scrutiny regarding the issue.
Trinity Industries was ordered to pay $663 million for their defective ET-Plus guardrails.
Defective guardrail lawsuits have been coming to light for years, with families of victims determined to seek justice for the injuries and deaths that need not have been suffered without a defective guardrail. Trinity’s ET-Plus guardrails were particularly problematic, causing amputations and impalements around the country. Another manufacturer under investigation for defective guardrails is Lindsay Corporation. Their X-LITE guardrails are suspected to be defective, and in fact, the approval process for their design occurred on a self-testing basis, indicating that the company only submitted from specific tests in order to obtain approval for their design.
These and similarly dangerous guardrails are installed all over the country.
These and other defective guardrails have been shipped and installed all over the country, increasing the risk for drivers in those areas should they find themselves involved in an accident involving a guardrail. Unfortunately, guardrail manufacturers have escaped a good deal of scrutiny in recent years, and have operated with very little oversight in regard to their product safety. This is why anyone whose injuries were created or exacerbated by a defective guardrail needs to report the incident and explore their options for legal recourse as soon as possible.
Every state has a different statute of limitations or window of time in which an injured person can file a personal injury claim; in Pennsylvania, for example, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the injury. Legal proceedings can take years to conclude, so it is important to seek the help of a car accident attorney as soon as possible if you or a loved one were injured by a defective guardrail.