The guardrails that line major road roads across the country are supposed to act as safety barriers that reduce the risk of injuries in vehicle accidents by absorbing the impact of the vehicle and slowing it down. The guardrail ends are designed to hold the rail together during the impact of a crash so the metal rail does not impale the vehicle – or the passengers inside it. But one type of guardrail is being blamed for at least four deaths and multiple injuries, according to lawsuits that have been filed in several states. The state of Nevada has even gone so far as to remove the ET-Plus end terminal model of guardrail from its approved list of products. The original model had a guardrail head that was five inches wide. In 2005, Trinity Industries, manufacturer of the product, changed the width to four inches, and at the same time also made the feeder narrower. According to the lawsuits that have been filed, this change to the design causes the guardrail to not work properly. Compounding the issues for the manufacturer is their failure to notify the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) of the design change, which they were required to do by law. Trinity argues that the change was done on the recommendation of Texas A&M Transportation Institute researchers who had designed the original product. The company claims the reason why the government was not notified of the change until seven years later was because the researchers “inadvertently omitted” the design drawing that indicated those changes. Several victims of the crashes have been impaled by the guardrails, including one 24 year-old driver who had both legs severed when a guardrail impaled the bottom of his vehicles. That victim did survive the crash. If you have been injured in a vehicle crash and have received those injuries because of defective or malfunctioning product, contact an experienced San Antonio personal injury attorney to find out what compensation you may be entitled to for pain and loss.
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