Highway guardrails are designed to absorb impact when vehicles collide with them; they are also put in place to prevent cars from careening off motorways. Unfortunately, thousands of miles of guardrail systems in the United States may create additional hazards rather than minimizing them.
Earlier this month, testing authorized by the Federal Highway Administration and performed by Southwest Research Institute began on guardrails manufactured by Trinity Industries. Recently, a federal judge ruled that Dallas-based Trinity, which manufactures the majority of guardrails in the country, concealed information that could reveal that the guardrails do not perform as the company claims.
Whistleblower Claims Trinity Guardrails Are Unsafe
In 2011, a whistleblower and former Trinity competitor, Joshua Harman, brought a lawsuit in federal court claiming that Trinity secretly modified its guardrail design sometime between 2002 and 2005. Instead of notifying federal transportation authorities of its design modification, he says, it changed its product in a significant way – a way that, according to Harman, turns the guardrails into a piece of metal that can act like an enormous shiv, or knife-like protrusion, rather than a life-saving shock absorber.
Several Personal Injury Lawsuits Pending
The company is also under fire in at least nine personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits pending in several states. Attorneys for the plaintiffs, along with Harman, claim that Trinity revised its design in an effort to cut costs.
Injuries to victims involved in accidents featuring Trinity’s ET-Plus highway guardrail design include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Bruised organs
- Injuries related to ejection from the vehicle
Tragically, several people – at least 20, according to Harman – have lost their lives in accidents featuring Trinity guardrails.