A growing number of lawsuits have been filed by people who suffered horrific injuries after driving into defective highway guardrails that impaled their vehicles instead of being deflected away.
Need a Texas Highway Guardrail Injury Lawyer? Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged. If you or a loved one was injured by the Trinity ET-Plus guardrail, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit in Texas.
There are thousands of miles of guardrails on highways throughout the United States. The rails are safety features to guide an oncoming car away from the edge of the road without bouncing the vehicle back into traffic.
Over the last few decades, the “head” of the guardrail has gone through several designs. Earlier designs had a blunt end-terminal that acted like a spear, penetrating the car and its occupants. In the 1970s, engineers tried burying the head of the guardrail in the ground, but this design acted like a ramp and caused vehicles to roll over.
In the 1990s, Texas A&M designed the ET-2000. These devices were designed to absorb and dissipate the impact of an oncoming car. The “end cap” had a feeder chute that flattened the guardrail into a flexible ribbon and deflected it away from an oncoming vehicle.
The device was thoroughly crash-tested and approved by the Federal Highway Administration. The Dallas-based manufacturer, Trinity Industries, has sold hundreds of thousands of the ET-2000 and ET-Plus guardrails all over the United States.
What is the problem?
In 2012, a whistleblower lawsuit (PDF) was filed against Trinity Industries. The lawsuit alleges that sometime around 2005, Trinity quietly changed the dimensions of the feeder chute to save money on materials. The new design has a feeder chute that is four inches wide instead of five inches.
The lawsuit alleges that guardrails are more likely to get stuck, buckle up, and act like a spear that impales oncoming vehicles and passengers. Furthermore, the new design was never tested or approved by the Federal Highway Administration.
According to the complaint:
“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.”
The whistleblower, Joshua Harmon, was the president of a competitor guardrail company. Harmon was involved in a patent dispute that cost him $12 million and forced his company into bankruptcy. Trinity has filed a defamation lawsuit against Harmon.
Study Links ET-Plus With 3X Increased 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
- Robinson v. Trinity Industries (PDF): In February 2014, a lawsuit was filed by Brittany Robinson, a woman who was injured by the ET-Plus guardrail. She was a passenger in a vehicle that left the roadway and struck the guardrail. As a result, the vehicle was impaled by the guardrail and Robinson suffered broken bones, surgery, and hospitalization. She also suffered emotional distress from watching her child pinned to the roof of the vehicle by the guardrail and suffering pelvic injuries, brain trauma, and other injuries.
- Traylor v. Trinity Industries (PDF): In January 2014, Jay Traylor was driving his vehicle in North Carolina when he fell asleep at the wheel. He awoke when his car slammed into the ET-Plus. The guardrail penetrated the driver’s side floorboard area, impaled him, and severed both of his legs. He is now a double-amputee.
Highway Guardrail Class Action Lawsuit
The Clark Firm, LLP is nationally recognized as a class action law firm. However, our attorneys are not filing a guardrail class action against Trinity Industries. Instead, we are filing individual lawsuits and focusing on helping people with the most serious injuries.
Trinity Industries has already been found liable for up to $1 billion for defrauding the government by failing to disclose design changes on the ET-Plus. They are also facing at least 9 personal injury lawsuits, including 5 wrongful death claims. None of these lawsuits are part of a class action — the fraud claim was filed by a whistleblower, and the rest are individual lawsuits.
Need a Highway Guardrail Injury Lawyer in Texas?
Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged.
Collen’s amazing success in the courtroom and well known dedication to his clients has earned him the recognition of his peers as one of The Top Trial Lawyers in Texas.”
The Clark Firm has assembled a team of trial lawyers with more than 100 years experience, participation in over 600 jury trials and $260 million in verdicts and/or settlements. Please use the form below to contact our Texas guardrail injury lawyers for a free lawsuit review.