Indianapolis, IN Guardrail Car Crash Lawyers
Trinity Highway Products, LLC has gained a considerable amount of attention lately surrounding its ET-Plus guardrail system. On October 24, 2014, Trinity issued a press release stating it would stop shipments of its ET-Plus Guardrail system after several lawsuits were filed. One of those lawsuits was a whistleblower, or Qui Tam lawsuit, alleging Trinity Highway Products, LLC defrauded the United States government by failing to disclose the design change it made to its guardrail system thus circumventing the safety testing process.
Several personal injury lawsuits have been filed and allege that a design change made by the manufacturer in 2005 led to a number of serious injuries as victims suffered amputated limbs and, in some cases death, as a result of crashes involving these guardrails.
Safety Issues with Trinity ET-Plus Guardrail System
Guardrails are used as a safety measure to keep drivers from veering into oncoming traffic or off the roadway. As these safety devices have evolved, changes have been made to the endcap design of these structures. In 2005, Trinity Highway Products changed its guardrail design with the ET-Plus system. The main change—a reduction in the width of the rail covered by the endcap – had a major impact on company profits according to court documents. The company reportedly saved millions of dollars with that design change; however, reports of severe injuries and death have increased in crashes associated with these guardrails.
The Safety Institute issued findings in September 2014 from a study examining the safety of guardrail end terminals. The study analyzed crash data in two states- Missouri and Ohio. It reviewed instances of severe injury and death involving five different guardrail end terminal designs: Trinity’s ET-2000, Slotted Rail Terminal (SRT), ET-Plus, and Road King Systems’ Flared Energy Absorbing Terminal (FLEAT) and Sequential Kinking Terminal (SKT).
It found collisions involving the ET-Plus Guardrail System were two-times more likely to produce a severe bodily injury and nearly four-times more likely to result in a fatality as compared to other guardrail systems.
Trinity ET-Plus Guardrail Lawsuits
In October 2014, a federal jury ordered Trinity Highway Products to pay $175 million in a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that the company made false claims to federal regulators when it changed the guardrail end terminal design in 2005 and did not make notice of the change.
In addition to the whistleblower lawsuit, Trinity faces more countless other lawsuits in Nevada, North Carolina, and Florida by victims and their families for serious injuries and deaths sustained from crashes involving the ET-Plus Guardrail System.
Indiana Department of Transportation Investigates Guardrails
Indianapolis news station Fox59 recently reported that the Indiana Department of Transportation (IDOT) is investigating the integrity of 4,000 guardrail systems on Indiana roads. This comes after numerous reports of guardrail malfunctions across the United States that left drivers severely injured or killed. According to the report, INDOT is reviewing crash data of 600 reports involving guardrails. Partner Greg Laker spoke to Fox59 about this issue. Watch the video here.
When asked about whether or not Indiana would be removing the ET-Plus Guardrails, an INDOT spokesperson said, “Well, those are in the field and again we have not had any evidence of malfunction.”
Cohen & Malad, LLP is interested in speaking with people who had an accident involving a guardrail and suffered a serious injury. If you or someone you care about was involved in a guardrail crash, contact us for a free no-obligation case evaluation.