Simply put, guardrails are supposed to protect cars, drivers, and passengers. At the very least, they can prevent a bad situation, such as a car or truck wreck, from turning even worse. On highways and interstates, they can prevent cars from running off the road, falling down an embankment, or veering into oncoming traffic. When not functioning properly, bad things can happen. Drivers in many states have been having serious problems with guardrails recently, and at least seven people have died as a result of deadly guardrails in Tennessee, Virginia, and Missouri.
One such incident occurred near Knoxville, Tennessee, when a 17-year-old girl was killed in a car accident caused by a defective guardrail. The driver veered off the road, drove into the median, and hit the end of a guardrail. While the guardrail was supposed to help absorb the impact with the vehicle, the end actually pierced through the vehicle, hitting the driver in the head.
The type of guardrail in question is X-LITE, which is manufactured by Lindsay Transportation Solutions. There are currently 1,700 of them on Tennessee roads, interstates, and highways. TDOT conducted its own investigation into this type of guardrail and found that they did not always work when cars hit them traveling at speeds 62 mph or higher. Usually, 62 mph is the standard crash test speed for guardrail ends. TDOT also found issues with the installation instructions, which, according to TDOT, “could result in the terminal performing differently from the original tested conditions.” Right now, Tennessee is accepting bids to replace all of these guardrails. Once complete, the final cost could end up being $3.5 million or more.
High-speed collisions are dangerous enough because cars traveling at high speeds hit each other with such force that traumatic injuries can easily result. However, defective guardrails only serve to escalate an already dangerous situation. While recent history shows these guardrails can be deadly, victims fortunate enough to survive the accident may likely face permanent and life altering injuries. These may include permanent scarring, disfigurement, or broken bones.
Depending on the facts of the case, victims may pursue their damages in a civil lawsuit. If another driver hits you and propels you into a guardrail, you may have a claim against the other driver for negligence. If the guardrail does not operate as it was intended to, you may have a claim against the company that manufactured it under a theory of product liability. If you or a loved one was hurt by a guardrail in a single car accident, you or your loved one may still have a claim against the guardrail manufacturer.
Product liability claims can be asserted under a multitude of theories. Some of the most well known are:
- Manufacturing defect – This is a product defect that was not intended. Under this theory, there was a problem in the manufacturing process to where the final product deviated from its intended design into something more dangerous than the average consumer would expect.
- Design defect – This is a problem with the design of the product. Under this theory, a product was manufactured properly, but the problem is that it was poorly designed to where it was inherently unsafe and dangerous.
- Failure to warn – Also referred to as a marketing defect, this theory can hold manufacturers, distributors, and sellers liable for a victim’s losses if they failed to give consumers an appropriate warning and in turn, a consumer gets injured as a result of using the product in a foreseeable manner.
If you have been hurt as a result of a defective guardrail in Tennessee or elsewhere, call the Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz product liability lawyers at 1-800-LAW-4004. These cases often turn on the specific facts of the incident, making it critical to begin investigating as soon as possible. Call now for a free initial consultation on your car or truck accident case.