No matter where you live in the United States, as a driver or passenger, you have no doubt noticed guardrails along roads and highways. Ideally, guardrails are designed to stop a vehicle without hitting anything or rolling down a hill as it veers off the road—many areas of Virginia and the country present hazards if this were to happen. Ravines and steep slopes, utility poles, trees and forests, retaining walls and other objects or terrain along roads could cause serious injury or death if guardrails were not there to protect drivers.
However, what happens when a guardrail intended to keep drivers safe does the opposite? Numerous product liability lawsuits have been filed by injured persons and the families of victims who were killed in railing accidents. They allege that there are significant design flaws with specific types of railings.
The state of Missouri recently settled a $56 million railing lawsuit with Trinity Industries and its manufacturing company, Trinity Highway Products. The settlement will cover the costs of removing and replacing the company’s ET-Plus end-terminal on state roads and highways.
Trinity’s railings have been linked to several fatalities and many victims suffered serious injuries after colliding with them, including amputation. At Curcio Law, we have extensive experience in product liability cases and can help those injured by unsafe guardrails get the compensation they deserve.
Faulty guardrails can cause serious injury or even death
According to the Federal Highway Administration, the purpose of guardrails is to “make the roads safer and reduce the severity of accidents”. They are installed with the aim of preventing drivers from encountering known hazards on the sides of roads. When struck, guardrails are designed to absorb the shock, or energy, of the impact and bring vehicles to a controlled stop or redirect them back onto the road. How this is done depends on the design and where it is touched.
The Trinity ET-Plus guardrail end terminal is designed to wrap around when struck. Other designs absorb energy from the striking vehicle in other ways, such as by telescoping. However, these various designs have failed in many guardrail accidents, and drivers, passengers and their families have suffered greatly because they do not perform as they were designed and marketed.
When they failed, the guardrails penetrated through vehicles, sometimes impaling the people inside or causing a serious crash because crash energy was not absorbed. Faulty guardrails have caused serious and fatal injuries including deep and puncture wounds, lost limbs, organ damage, traumatic brain injury (TBI), broken bones, spinal cord injury, etc. In many cases, vehicle collisions with faulty guardrails have resulted in worse injuries than if they did not exist.
If there is a design or manufacturing defect, or if it has not been installed correctly, an accident with a guardrail can be extremely dangerous for people inside the vehicle. Several lawsuits have already shown that the Trinity ET-Plus and other types of guardrails pose risks of injury and death. And these accidents can cause lifelong health problems, such as chronic pain and permanent disabilities, affect the victim’s ability to work or care for family, cause financial hardship, require future surgical procedures and diminish the enjoyment of life.
Simply put, a personal injury of an accident involving a defective guardrail can have significant short and long term effects on the victim and their family. Manufacturers of a faulty railing can be held liable through product liability lawsuits which can help injured people to be compensated for a range of damages.
Railing manufacturers must be held accountable
Individual states sue manufacturers of defective railings, and more such lawsuits are likely to occur. They are trying to recover money paid to remove and replace poorly designed guardrails and end bollards, which Missouri successfully did through a settlement with Trinity earlier this year.
Virginia also took action against Trinity, alleging fraud in a lawsuit filed in 2021. They claimed the manufacturer had redesigned the guardrails without their knowledge, and that the change in size of the end terminal made them unsafe, and n therefore did not work as originally marketed and designed.
There are so many obvious dangers associated with faulty road crash barriers, and too many drivers and passengers have unfairly suffered the consequences of these dangerous products intended to keep people safe. Companies that designed and manufactured faulty guardrails put people at serious risk of harm, and they must be held accountable.
If you or someone you know has been injured or killed in a guardrail accident in Virginia, contact the Curcio Law Firm. Our experience in product liability lawsuits has helped our clients get the compensation they need and deserve. For more information, call or text us at 703-836-3366, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.curciolaw.com.