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Guardrail Safety Concerns

Guardrail Lawsuits

Lawyers at Lewis Babcock are currently reviewing claims for people injured by allegedly defective 4- inch ET-Plus guardrails. These specific guardrails have not performed properly and have led to severe injuries and even death to people inside vehicles that have had impact with the guardrail.  When properly designed and functioning, guardrail end terminals should lessen the severity of a crash by absorbing the energy of the striking vehicle while bending the post away.

Filed lawsuits allege that the 4-inch ET-Plus guardrail bears a dimensional change to the feeder chute, through which the rail is extruded and instead of bending away, the rail jams, causing it to fold in half and forming a spear that can penetrate the striking vehicle.  According to the FHWA there are approximately 200,000 ET-Plus guardrails installed nationally.

Injuries That Have Occurred in ET-Plus Guardrail Incidents Include:

• Brain trauma
• Broken bones
• Entrapment
• Impalement
• Loss of limbs
• Wrongful death

The ET-Plus Guardrail

The ET-Plus guardrail was developed by Dallas-based Trinity Industries in 1999.  Beginning in 2005, Trinity Industries allegedly implemented design changes and without approval from the FHWA, the manufacturer modified the ET-Plus guardrail by decreasing the width and height of the end terminal by one inch.  It was alleged in a federal whistleblower lawsuit that the design change had a significant negative impact for drivers and passengers in incidents related to the ET-Plus guardrail.
In October 2014, a Texas jury awarded a $175 million judgment against Trinity Industries in that whistleblower case, claiming they defrauded the federal government by failing to notify it of the changes to the ET-Plus guardrail designs.  After the verdict, the company announced a halt in sales and shipments of the product until additional safety test are completed.
Trinity Industries officials said its product met federal testing standards, and in a letter sent to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), wrote that they believe the additional testing will show the ET-Plus guardrail system meets safety requirements. The retesting, which will be monitored by the FHWA, is expected to be complete in January 2015 and will be conducted at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

Ties to South Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) is among at least 30 states to halt the installation of the ET-Plus guardrails until additional safety testing is completed. The South Carolina Department of Transportation also stated it had approximately 3,700 modified, 4-inch ET-Plus guardrails installed throughout the state but as of November 26, 2014 they did not know exactly where they were located.  They are attempting to locate the allegedly defective Trinity Industries ET-Plus guardrail systems.  The SCDOT will consider the results of the testing and evaluation prior to making any decision on future use of the ET-Plus guardrails.  According to SCDOT Chief Engineer Leland Colvin, South Carolina does not plan to recall them while the independent safety testing is underway.
Trinity Industries is headquartered in Dallas, Texas but operates a plant in Orangeburg, South Carolina on Prosperity Road in the Orangeburg County Industrial Park.  They also have plants in Utah, Kentucky, Ohio and Mississippi.

Contact us About Your Potential Guardrail Case

If you, or someone you love, have been injured in a guardrail accident in South Carolina or any other state, contact the attorneys at Lewis Babcock LLP.  Representing individuals in products liability lawsuits is an important part of our practice.  Because large awards of damages can occur and because substantial future sales and profits are at stake for manufacturers and sellers of these products, the responsible companies often vigorously defend products liability cases. This in turn raises the costs required to successfully resolve these claims—often far beyond the means of the injured person who has recently encountered many additional expenses. For this reason, the attorneys at Lewis, Babcock & Griffin, LLP take these ET-Plus guardrail cases on a contingency basis, so that you do not have to invest money upfront.
Contact products liability lawyer Badge Humphries at 1-843-883-7424 for more information about how the laws may apply to your situation or to arrange an initial consultation appointment.

News About the ET-Plus Guardrail System

Guardrail Investigation -WSPA7Spartanburg- November 2014
Did A Highway Guardrail Manufacturer Put Profits Over Safety?Manufacturing Business Technology- October 14, 2014
Highway Guardrail May Be Deadly, States Say –The New York Times– October 12, 2014

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