Texas Guardrail Injury Attorneys
Guardrails were created to ensure motorists’ safety on our nation’s roadways. They are in place to keep cars from falling off roadways, veering off the road, or veering into oncoming traffic in another lane, and they have been proven to significantly reduce the severity of injuries in accidents that do occur. When designed properly, they absorb the speed from a collision and peel away. However, it has come to light in recent years that a particular guardrail, known as ET-Plus, may not be as safe as manufacturer Trinity Industries says it is.
Initially, the guardrail was safety tested and approved by states across the country. However, the Texas-based manufacturer’s implemented a design change without informing the Federal Highway Administration and state authorities. Trinity engineers reduced each end terminal by about an each in size. The width of the feeder chute was changed from 5-inches to 4-inches, and the height was reduced by a 1/2-inch.This change was made to save costs, roughly $2 per unit, but the changes resulted in the guardrails no longer functioning properly.
A study commissioned by The Safety Institute showed that the new ET-Plus guardrails did not perform as well as the previous design, and was 1.36 times more likely to produce a severe injury, and 2.86 times more likely to produce a fatality. Drivers were actually being impaled by the guardrail that was installed in an effort to protect them.
Penalties handed down for maker of guardrail
Because of the spike in injuries believed to be caused by the ET-Plus guardrails, a False Claims Act lawsuit, brought against Trinity Industries was filed. The lawsuit alleged that Trinity failed to notify the federal government of the modifications it made on it’s guardrail, as required by law. It also alleged that the company did not properly test the new units.
A federal jury agreed with the plaintiff, and ordered Trinity to pay the government $175 million, which was trebled to $525 million shortly afterwards.
Because of this verdict, dozens of states banned the ET-Plus guardrail systems, and Trinity temporarily halted sales of the guardrails. They’ve since completed further safety-testing on the guardrail, and say that it is now safe. Not everyone agrees, however.
How The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
At least nine personal injury lawsuits have been filed against Trinity Industries. The roads you and your family are travelling on may be lined by ET-Plus guardrails. If you, or someone you love, have been injured or killed in an accident with a guardrail, it is in your best interest to contact one of our Texas guardrail injury attorneys right away to discuss your legal options. We have a team of dedicated and experienced personal injury attorneys who are currently investigating serious and fatal guardrail accidents. Call one of our offices today for your free, no obligation, case evaluation. We care, we can help.