wrongful death

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A Texas lawmaker is advocating for annual guardrail inspection reports following a series of tragic accidents in her state. State Senator Sylvia Garcia recently told reporters she wanted to see guardrail inspection reports released to the general public. At present, Texas guardrails along bridges are inspected every two years, but others are inspected only as needed. The inspection reports aren’t released to the public.

Texas has put a moratorium on the controversial Trinity ET Plus guardrail model, which has been known to malfunction. When it fails, the guardrail pierces vehicles, often amputating or killing passengers inside. When working as intended, guardrails should thread the end terminal and spiral backward under the weight of the car, bringing it to a safer stop.

That hasn’t always happened, experts say. Though the ET Plus has passed federal safety tests and remains on the national list of approved guardrails, Texas Department of Transportation has not lifted their moratorium. Other states have put similar policies into effect for the ET Plus guardrail end terminal.

The device may or may not be inherently dangerous – the jury is still out on that. But there’s no denying the danger of improperly installed guardrails of any maker or manufacturer. That’s why increased inspections could be so valuable for public safety.

We applaud lawmakers who advocate for more transparency from the folks responsible for maintaining our roads. With leaders like Senator Garcia fighting for the public’s safety, we can only hope these guardrail accidents will soon be a thing of the past. Until then, though, more pressure needs put on regulators to be more strict about the safety devices that are found on our nation’s roads.

We expect the roads we drive on to be safe. With our tax dollars at work, we expect everything from the pavement below us to the signs above us to be thoroughly researched and crafted with safety in mind. But recent fatal guardrail accidents are calling into question the way our government oversees our roads and the materials used to protect drivers. 

Guardrail accidents in Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee and Missouri have ended tragically for victims who run into the end terminals. In such accidents, the guardrail failed to act as it was designed to do. Guardrails are meant to fold under the pressure of a colliding vehicle, slowing down a car careening off the side of the road and bringing it to a relatively safe spot. Instead, these guardrails are impaling vehicles and the drivers and passengers inside. 

So just who is in charge of ensuring these devices work as intended? Many times, safety tests of guardrails are conducted by the companies who create and sell the guardrails – not the government itself. Too often, the guardrails aren’t truly put to the test until a real accident occurs. One safety advocate compared the situation to foxes guarding hen houses.

Without proper government oversight, the guardrail industry is unlikely to change. Taxpayers deserve safe devices on the roads they pay for, and the current guardrail options are simply unacceptable. Though there have been some victories for the families of victims – one guardrail manufacturer was ordered to pay $663 million after a jury found them guilty of fraud – more needs to change.

The ET-Plus guardrail has been under the lens of public scrutiny for months. Trinity Industries, the manufacturer of the guardrail, was found to have defrauded the federal government and fined by a Texas court. Hundreds of allegations against the company arose, with many claiming their car accidents were made worse by the ET-Plus malfunctioning.

Ideally, guardrail end terminals work to make car crashes safer. They’re designed to bend backwards – think of a bendy straw, flexible and compact – to bring vehicles to a safe stop along roads and highways. Instead, the ET-Plus has been known to spear cars, piercing the front and crashing through the foot wells below steering wheels. Tragically, this has resulted in deaths among some, amputated limbs among others. These malfunctions have serious ramifications for the safety industry.

Though the Federal Highway Administration has ordered a series of crash tests to better understand how these ET-Plus guardrails might be malfunctioning, the models are still found on the roads in 49 states. Only Virginia has begun plans to remove the ET-Plus from their streets, though actual removal has not yet started. Installation of the guardrail has been banned in more than 30 states, pending the results of the crash tests.

These guardrails are meant to protect those in dangerous crash situations, not make them worse. For an intended safety product, this design is simply not up to par. Until the thousands of ET-Plus guardrails are removed from the highways nationwide, however, people will likely continue to be injured – or worse – in accidents involving them.

Seriously Injured in an Accident Involving a Guardrail?

Our Guardrail Injury Lawyers are currently investigating serious and fatal guardrail accidents related to this potentially dangerous guardrail design. If you or a loved one were injured in an accident with a guardrail, contact our attorneys to discuss your legal options. We offer a free, no obligation, case evaluation – Get Help Now 877-544-5323

Utah is joining the long list of states growing concerned over the presence of the controversial ET-Plus guardrail on their roads and highways. Indeed, there are more than 300 of these guardrails on Utah streets and they are found in 49 different states. The guardrails have been the center of controversy following allegations that they malfunction when struck in accidents. Sources report that more than 1,000 injuries and 50 deaths have been blamed on the ET-Plus.

Unlike properly functioning guardrails, the ET-Plus has been known to pierce oncoming vehicles. Acting as a spear, the guardrail end terminal sometimes goes through the front of cars and comes up through the driver’s side foot well. This sharp, jagged metal has severed limbs and even ended lives. In fact, the allegations against Trinity Industries, the company that manufactures the ET-Plus, have grown so serious that the Federal Highway Association has ordered the guardrails be crash tested to prove their safety. The results of the tests should be available to the public soon.

The danger of the ET-Plus may lie in an unauthorized design change Trinity Industries made in 2005. By changing a critical metal piece from 5″ to 4″, they saved money on manufacturing costs. Unfortunately, safety experts say that this size reduction is likely the cause of the product’s malfunction. Since 2005, thousands of these guardrails have been installed on roads across the country. Only time will tell whether the ET-Plus will have a role on our streets in the future.

Seriously Injured in an Accident Involving a Guardrail?

Our Guardrail Injury Lawyers are currently investigating serious and fatal guardrail accidents related to this potentially dangerous guardrail design. If you or a loved one were injured in an accident with a guardrail, contact our attorneys to discuss your legal options. We offer a free, no obligation, case evaluation – Get Help Now 877-544-5323

The last of eight federally mandated crash tests on the ET-Plus guardrail has been completed in San Antonio, Texas. The tests were ordered following allegations that the highway safety mechanism was malfunctioning, injuring and killing those involved in guardrail crashes. Because of such claims, more than forty states banned the installation of the Trinity Industries product.

Virginia was one of the only states to make progress toward removing ET-Plus guardrails from its roads. Virginia Department of Transportation ordered their own round of crash testing to determine the product’s safety. 13newsnow.com reports that of the 197 crashes recorded, 69 of them involved an ET-Plus guardrail. Regulators found that with a few exceptions, the guardrail worked as intended.

Still, some critics of the crash tests are concerned about the reliability of such results. Two senators recently wrote to regulators asking for newer cars to be included in the tests, along with a wider variety of angles. These factors could majorly impact the way the ET-Plus performs in crash situations.

In the meantime, no final decision has been made about the reliability of the ET-Plus nor its future on American roads. Considering how serious allegations against Trinity Industries have been – including claims that the ET-Plus malfunctions and slices through cars, amputating passengers’ limbs – it is doubtful these test results will be enough to clear their name. In October, a jury fined the company $525 million for hiding changes they made to the design of the ET-Plus. With that ruling in mind, regulators are surely being cautious about the future of the ET-Plus.

Seriously Injured in an Accident Involving a Guardrail?

Our Guardrail Injury Lawyers are currently investigating serious and fatal guardrail accidents related to this potentially dangerous guardrail design. If you or a loved one were injured in an accident with a guardrail, contact our attorneys to discuss your legal options. We offer a free, no obligation, case evaluation – Get Help Now 877-544-5323

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