Highway Guardrails Are Killing Drivers, Says Industry Insider

Tennessee drivers and drivers all across the United States not only rely on their vehicles to keep them safe, they also expect the roads they are driving on to be safe as well. This includes guardrails on highways helping to prevent accidents and injuries when a vehicle may be out of control. However, sometimes companies that make these products are aware that they have defects and problems. If you or someone you know has been seriously injured in an accident and you suspect defective guardrails may have been a factor, then you should speak to a Tennessee defective auto products lawyer right away. They will listen to your case and help make sure you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

According to this case, Joshua Harmon, a self-described safety advocate, filed a lawsuit against Trinity Industries for defects in their guardrails. He filed this lawsuit following an investigation into the accident of Darius Williams. Williams had run his vehicle off an interstate at eighty miles an hour. A length of the guardrail pierced his door and pushed him into the backseat. Days later the police declared the accident a case of reckless driving and Williams was in intensive care. Harmon claimed U.S. federal whistleblower status in order to sue Trinity Industries.

His lawsuit claims that the Trinity Industries company made quiet changes to their guardrails that were meant to reduce injuries but actually led to possible deadly hazards. He is focused on the part the guardrail known as energy-absorbing end terminal. This is supposed to be on the end of a guardrail and give way when hit absorbing energy in order to slow down an out of control vehicle. Trinity, one of the biggest guardrail makers in the U.S., first gained federal approval in 2000 for its ET-Plus end terminal, now used nationwide.

Harmon’s lawsuit alleges that Trinity changed the ET-Plus’s dimensions between 2002 and 2005 without telling federal authorities. These changes caused the guardrails to lock up and act more like a shiv instead of a shock absorber that could impale cars and possibly the drivers and passengers in them.

Jack Todd, a spokesman for Trinity, states that the company has a “high degree of confidence” in its product. An executive in a 2012 deposition for a patent infringement lawsuit over the ET-Plus said that Trinity had made changes to its end terminal but that they were “cosmetic” and didn’t require new approvals because they didn’t hurt its performance. Todd said Trinity didn’t sell the revised end terminals until they had been crash-tested in 2005 and the Federal Highway Administration had “issued its letter of acceptance.” Trinity claims that Harman can’t claim to be impartial: He and his brother own two small companies that once made and installed generic end terminals based on Trinity’s ET-Plus design. In 2011, Trinity sued for patent infringement. The company also disputed Harman’s eligibility to sue under the federal whistle-blower law, saying he’s basing his allegations largely on public information, not insider knowledge. If Harman prevails in the case, his whistle-blower status could allow him to take about a third of any judgment.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap dismissed Trinity’s objections, saying Harman’s expertise qualifies him to sue as a whistle-blower. A jury will begin to hear arguments in July.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured or died following a car accident with a guardrail and you believe the defective guardrail to have been the cause, then you should contact one of our experienced and caring Tennessee defective products attorneys with the Higgins Firm. We will listen to your case and answer any questions you may have. We will fight for you to make sure you receive the compensation you are entitled to and the company is held accountable for their actions.

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