Guardrail Injury LawsuitHas a member of your family been maimed or killed by a defective guardrail? If so, you may be due substantial payments via a guardrail lawsuit on your behalf.

Such guardrail accidents have happened in places across America since guardrail maker Trinity Industries of Dallas — one of the world’s biggest guardrail manufacturers — secretly modified its guardrails to save a tiny cost: just $2 per guardrail. But that cost-cutting modification may have made guardrails extremely dangerous when hit head-on by a vehicle.

Instead of giving way and absorbing the impact, modified guardrails can pierce vehicles, often spearing drivers or passengers.

Horrendous calamities have ensued since the change was made, and now some guardrail lawsuits are holding Trinity legally liable for the damages.

Successful Guardrail Lawsuits

If your family has a guardrail accident claim, notify the Willis Law Firm at once. We can fight for your legal right to payments for your family’s medical costs, lost wages and pain and suffering caused by defective guardrails. Already, such lawsuits are in the works, and your family can get one as well.

In fact, Trinity already has lost a whistleblower lawsuit in which a Texas jury reached a verdict of $175 million against the company — an amount that could rise to $600 million when fees are calculated and damages are tripled.

That verdict in October of 2014 found Trinity guilty of fraud for failing to reports its guardrail design changes to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and for inadequately testing the modified guardrails — which should have been and would have been tested by the federal agency if it had been properly notified..

The legal action was known as a “whistleblower” lawsuit since it was initiated by Joshua Harmon, a guardrail competitor. He discovered evidence of Trinity’s secret guardrail modifications during litigation against the company in 2011, then filed a lawsuit on behalf of the federal government under the False Claims Act.

ET-Plus Guardrail Systems

The reportedly defective guardrails being used across America are known as ET-Plus guardrail systems.

Ideally, guardrails should act as a shock-absorbing fence to prevent a vehicle from crashing off of a roadway. But when the end of a guardrail is struck head-on, the guardrail should limit the damage by collapsing, while absorbing the car’s energy and slowing the vehicle.

Often that has not been the case with Trinity’s modified equipment. Here is the problem with such guardrails:

  • Guardrails normally transfer an impact’s force into an end terminal. When struck head-on, the end terminal or “rail head” should slide along the guardrail’s path, pushing it out of the way.

  • The guardrail itself is supposed to flatten and curl to one side, moving out of the path of the vehicle, while the rail absorbs energy and slows the vehicle.

  • In modifying its ET-Plus guardrails, Trinity shaved one inch from the channel behind the rail’s head, from 5 inches to 4 inches. The resulting narrower channel made it harder for the guardrail head to slide, so the rail could jam and lock up in the channel. Instead of peeling away, the guardrail then could pierce or spear the oncoming vehicle, rather than ribboning away and absorbing the impact.

$2 Savings Becomes Million-Dollar Losses

Trinity’s saving by shaving one inch off of the device was just $2 per terminal. But Trinity makes an enormous number of guardrails, and internal memos from Trinity indicate the change was made in order to save $50,000 per year. When you do the math, that indicates Trinity made 25,000 defective guardrails annually, then sold them to unsuspecting states.

Of course, even $50,000 per year is still an extremely small savings for a multi-million-dollar company — especially when extremely high costs for injuries, deaths and damages perhaps as a result are taken into account. It’s believed that at least five persons have died so far due to guardrail defects, and many more have suffered devastating, life-changing injuries, including amputations, when their vehicles were pierced by guardrails.

Over 500,000 Defective Guardrails

How widespread is the problem? Since Trinity made the secret modification 10 years ago, it’s estimated that more than half a million defective guardrails have been installed across America. These are in many different states, including Trinity’s home state of Texas.

As ABC News’ 20/20 has reported, “On a high-speed highway, any guardrail or stationary object presents a potential hazard.” That being the case, over 500,000 potential hazards can be found nationwide in the form of defective guardrails.

Trinity Kept Modifications Secret

Trinity’s liability in guardrail lawsuits extends to the fact that for years it failed to notify the federal government of the modification it had made to the guardrails. By law, Trinity should have alerted the Federal Highway Administration immediately of any modifications.

Trinity has said that this failure was inadvertent. But again, an internal memo revealed otherwise, showing that a decision was made not to divulge this vital information to federal regulators. And it was only through legal action that Trinity’s deception was revealed.

Federal Tests, Lawsuits on Guardrails

When the modification finally became known, a federal lawsuit ensued. Also at that time, some states stopped installing ET-Plus guardrails which they had ordered or received. Already, Missouri, Nevada and Massachusetts have banned the use of Trinity’s guardrails.

In addition, the Federal Highway Administration is reviewing hundreds of guardrail accidents while testing the effectiveness — or ineffectiveness — of Trinity’s modified guardrail systems.

Such tests could have been made before thousands of defective guardrails were sold and installed — and many innocent Americans were injured or killed — if not for the fact that Trinity kept secret its modifications.

Individual guardrail lawsuits by victims or their families are being filed as wrongful death or personal injury lawsuits against Trinity Industries. These lawsuits assert that Trinity’s secret modifications of the end terminal’s size resulted in unsafe guardrails which led to injuries and deaths.

Contact the Willis Law Firm

If your family is among defective guardrail accident victims, please contact us at the Willis Law Firm, either by sending the review form on this page or by calling our toll-free number. We will quickly provide you with a free legal evaluation of your case, and then you can decide how you want to proceed.

If you elect to engage our firm to provide you with a guardrail accident lawyer or attorney, rest assured that you will not be asked to pay any costs out of your own pocket. Our law firm works on a contingency fee basis, which means we are not paid unless we win a case. And even then, we are only paid a pre-agreed portion of the settlement in our client’s favor.

The Willis Law Firm has decades of experience helping injured Americans get the money they need and deserve after they were harmed by someone else’s negligence. Now, let us help you and your family, too.

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