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Highway Guardrail Injury Lawsuit

Highway Guardrail Injury Lawsuit

Trinity Industries, the manufacturer of highway guardrails, is facing lawsuits from people who suffered horrific injuries when the guardrail punctured their vehicle instead of deflecting away in an accident. Trinity is accused of changing the design to save money, which made the guardrails act like spears that impale oncoming cars.

What You Can Do & How a Highway Guardrail Injury Lawsuit Can Help

The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting highway guardrail induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know was injured by the Trinity ET-Plus Guardrail, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Product Liability Litigation Group or call us toll-free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.

Overview

Highway guardrails are an important safety feature on American roads. They are designed to prevent a vehicle from exiting the roadway without bouncing the vehicle back into traffic.

Since guardrails were introduced in the 1960s, they have gone through a number of design changes. The original design tended to impale oncoming cars that hit the head of the rail. In the 1970s, engineers tried burying the head in the ground — but this acted like a ramp and caused vehicles to roll over.

In the 1990s, researchers at Texas A&M created the ET-2000. This end-terminal had a special “feeder chute” that would flatten the guardrail into a flimsy ribbon and deflect it away from the oncoming car. The ET-Plus has a similar design but uses less material.

The devices were thoroughly crash-tested, approved by the Federal Highway Administration. Hundreds of thousands of the devices are now installed on highways all over the United States.

What is the problem?

Trinity Industries, Inc., the manufacturer of the ET-Plus, was hit with a whistleblower lawsuit (PDF) in 2012. The lawsuit alleges that sometime around 2005, Trinity quietly reduced the size of the ET-Plus to save money on materials. The width of the feeder chute was changed from 5-inches to 4-inches, and the height was reduced by a 1/2-inch.

According to the lawsuit, the new design is defective because it the guardrail is more likely to get stuck in the feeder chute, lock up, and act like a spear that impales oncoming vehicles. Furthermore, it was not crash-tested or approved by the Federal Highway Administration.

The lawsuit states:

“Once throat locked, the energy of the crash is diverted elsewhere usually causing the guardrail to double over on itself or protrude through the crashing vehicle. If the guardrail and head assembly protrude like a spear through the vehicle, the inevitable result is usually death or serious bodily injury to the persons in the vehicle.”

Trinity insists the guardrail is safe and they have filed a defamation lawsuit against the whistleblower, Joshua Harmon. He is a former competitor in the guardrail industry who lost $12 million in a patent dispute with Trinity, forcing his company into bankruptcy.

Crash-Tests Show Guardrail Damaging Vehicle

In early 2015, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) completed a series of eight crash-tests involving the ET-Plus. The following is a video of the eighth and final crash-test, which appears to show the guardrail jamming up and penetrating into the side of the car. The guardrail severely damaged the door of the car and likely would have injured a passenger, but got a “passing” grade.

wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather

ET-Plus Linked to 36% Increased Risk of Injury, 3X Risk of Death

In September 2014, researchers at the University of Alabama published a study suggesting the ET-Plus is 36% more likely to cause injuries and 3-times as likely to cause death compared to the ET-2000, an older and heavier model that was designed by Texas A&M. Conclusions were based on 8 years of crash data from Ohio and Missouri and compared five different guardrail end-terminal models.

Highway Guardrail Injury Lawsuits

At least nine personal injury lawsuits have been filed against Trinity Industries, including:

  • Robinson v. Trinity Industries (PDF): Lawsuit filed in February 2014 by Brittany Robinson, a passenger in a vehicle that struck an ET-Plus guardrail. It punctured the vehicle, causing her to suffer broken bones, surgery, and hospitalization. Her son Ethan was pinned to the roof of the car and had pelvic injuries, brain trauma, and other injuries.
  • Traylor v. Trinity Industries (PDF): Lawsuit filed by Jay Traylor, a man who fell asleep at the wheel and hit an ET-Plus guardrail. It punctured the driver’s side floorboards and lacerated both of his legs, which had to be amputated.

Highway Guardrail Class Action Lawsuit

The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is nationally recognized as a class action law firm, but we are not filing a guardrail class action. Instead, we are focusing on individual lawsuits for people who were injured or family members of those who died in head-on collisions with defective guardrail end-terminals.

Trinity has already been found guilty of fraud for failing to tell the government about design modifications to the ET-Plus, and at least 9 personal injury lawsuits have been filed. None of these lawsuits are part of a class action — they are individual lawsuits filed by people who hired their own attorney to represent their legal and financial interests.

Do I have a Guardrail Injury Lawsuit?

The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting highway guardrail induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know was injured by the Trinity ET-Plus Guardrail, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Product Liability Litigation Group or call us toll-free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.

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Free Case Evaluation

The Schmidt Firm, PLLC has been recognized as one of the nation’s leading plaintiff’s law firms and handles cases in all 50 states. We are very proud of our legal achievements, but equally self-respecting of our firms reputation for providing personal attention to each and every client we represent.

No matter what type of case you have, you may contact us with confidence by filling out the email contact form below or calling us directly by dialing toll free 24 hrs/day (866) 920-0753.

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