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Have Road Guardrails Become More Dangerous for Motorists?

Written by Ankin Law Office

Roads are designed with certain safety features, such as guardrails, in place to prevent auto accidents or minimize their severity. Unfortunately, when roads are designed or maintained negligently, these safety features can end up causing more harm than good.

In fact, recently filed lawsuits claim that guardrails have become more dangerous since the guardrail head model was changed in 2005. According to this article, in 2010, a guardrail in Florida punctured the floorboard of a truck and sliced through the leg of the vehicle’s 18-year-old passenger. In 2008, a motorist died when a guardrail cut through the front of her sports utility vehicle, and other motorists and passengers have been pinned inside their vehicles by guardrails when they pierced through the vehicle’s exterior.

In light of the various injuries and deaths caused by guardrails, a whistleblower lawsuit has been filed against Trinity Industries – the company that makes most of the guardrails on the road today. Trinity’s guardrails are on roadways across the world, including 60 countries and all 50 states.

The whistleblower lawsuit was filed by Josh Harman – one of Trinity’s competitors – who noticed during a patent dispute that the newer, smaller guardrail terminal heads were no longer working as they should. According to a Florida ABC News affiliate, a separate lawsuit has been filed against Trinity by several plaintiffs also claiming that Trinity changed the design of its guardrail heads and the newer models are defective.

The lawsuits claim that the smaller terminal head on the newer models cause the railing to get stuck behind the terminal head and act like a projectile shooting through the vehicle toward the passengers inside.

Another article indicates that although the Federal Highway Administration approved Trinity’s newer model after a crash test in May 2005, Trinity subsequently made changes to the model without telling the federal government about the changes.

Road defects, such as defective guardrails and unsafe bridges, can cause hazardous driving conditions and lead to accidents. Roadways must be designed, constructed, and maintained according to various specifications and standards. The failure to do so can result in liability for any accidents that occur.

If an auto accident is caused or exacerbated by a road defect, the government responsible for the roadway or the product manufacturer could be held liable for any resulting injuries or damages. Assessing liability for accidents caused by unsafe road conditions requires a careful evaluation and investigation, however, since there are often complex issues of multiple liability and comparative negligence.

Our experienced Chicago auto accident attorneys are dedicated to ensuring that roadways are safe for motorists and protecting the rights of injured motorists in the event that a road defect causes or exacerbates an accident. We work with engineers, safety investigators, and accident investigators to thoroughly examine the facts surrounding the accident to determine liability for the accident and whether it was due to road defects.

If you have been injured in a car accident caused or exacerbated by a defective guardrail or other road defect, do not hesitate to contact Ankin Law Offices at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable Chicago auto accident lawyers.

Categories: Auto Accidents