Although guardrails line US highways as a means to protect drivers should an accident occur, those installed over the past decade may do the opposite and pose a danger. Trinity Highway Products, the guardrail manufacturer, is facing legal allegations that it changed its guardrail design and failed to inform the Federal Highway Administration while improperly accepting federal money.
In separate suits, it is alleged that the changes – which have been in effect for seven years – have caused five deaths and many other injuries in an estimated 14 crashes in the U.S., according to the New York Times.
In January, Nevada became one of the states that removed the ET-Plus from its list of approved products because of Trinity’s failure to disclose changes to it.
When the end of the terminal of a guardrail is struck, it is supposed to divert the rail away from the oncoming vehicle, while also absorbing the impact of the crash. But, in some instances the end of the guardrail fails to do so and instead allows the rail to pierce the striking vehicle and thereby anyone occupying the vehicle. Although the company contends it has conducted and passed tests for the new design, it failed to alert or receive approval for the change when it was first made in 2005.
The company is now facing a false claims lawsuit which contends it improperly took federal funds for this new guardrail, which was not specifically approved by the agency.
Trinity has not responded to requests for comment. More information regarding the lawsuits and more can be read on Bloomberg.
Steve is the Managing Shareholder of Steven J. Klearman & Associates, a civil litigation law firm located in Reno, Nevada. He practices primarily in the areas of civil litigation and injury law, and has authored one of the definitive guides to Nevada civil law that is widely used by Nevada judges and attorneys, his book entitled Elements of Nevada Legal Theories.