Illinois is among 44 states that have banned future use of the ET-Plus, a guardrail system manufactured by Trinity Industries, Inc.
The New York Times reports that the guardrail’s end terminals cut through vehicles instead of peeling away upon impact as they should. This suspected defect may be linked to deaths and injuries across the country.
If you were seriously injured or lost a loved one in a car accident in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois, the guardrail lawyers of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., would like to help you. Contact us today to receive a free review of your case and discuss your rights and legal options.
Design Change May Make ET-Plus Guardrails More Likely to Cause Severe Injuries
According to reports, the concern about the ET-Plus end terminal is that it stays intact when a vehicle strikes it. The end terminal, in this sense, acts like a spear, penetrating through the front of the vehicle and into the cabin. Drivers involved in collisions with ET-Plus guardrails have lost one or both legs due to the rail slicing through the vehicle, reports state.
In a June 2014 memo, the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) memo stated that Trinity reduced the width of the channel behind the ET-Plus railhead by an inch in 2005. Highway officials in several states say the narrower design may have led to the malfunction, the New York Times reports.
Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Engineering reported in September 2014 that the ET-Plus design is 1.36 times more likely to produce a severe injury and 2.86 times more likely to produce a fatality than the company’s ET-2000 design.
Jury Verdict Against Trinity Industries
In October 2014, a federal court jury in Dallas returned a $175 million verdict against Trinity in a lawsuit that claimed the company’s ET-Plus guardrail end terminal became unsafe after the 2005 redesign. The lawsuit alleged that, because the company made the terminal narrower, it penetrated vehicles instead of crumpling and falling away from the vehicle as a guardrail should.
That lawsuit claimed that Trinity’s failure to advise the FHA of the new guardrail design in 2005 amounted to defrauding the government because federal money is used to install guardrails. The plaintiffs sued Trinity under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, in which a private individual can sue federal contractors for fraud on behalf of the government. This is also known as a “whistleblower” lawsuit.
ABC News claims to have obtained “internal company email” that shows Trinity personnel discussed keeping the design change secret. The New York Times reports that internal company documents show Trinity expected the design change to save about $2 on every end terminal.
The ET-Plus is no longer being produced or distributed, but there are still thousands (if not tens of thousands) installed on the highways in Illinois and across the country. Many more ET-Plus guardrails are sitting in Department of Transportation warehouses and still being installed by uninformed workers.
Have You Been Injured by a Trinity Guardrail?
Does the accident and injury described above sound familiar to you – a guardrail slicing into your vehicle or the vehicle driven by a loved one and causing catastrophic injury or death? If so, you or your loved one may have struck a Trinity ET-Plus guardrail.
The attorneys of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., are investigating potential cases of injury and death caused by the ET-Plus guardrail system. We may be able to help you and your family to obtain compensation for medical bills and other losses as well as for your pain and suffering.
Our law firm has obtained more than $1.5 billion in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our injury clients. Our record includes more than 280 multi-million-dollar verdicts and settlements.
To discuss your case immediately, please contact Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C.
Sources / More Information
- Virginia Sues Trinity Industries Over Potentially Risky Guardrail, New York Times
- Trinity Industries Tests Potentially Hazardous Guardrail, New York Times
- Deadly Impact: Twisted Metal, Lost Limbs & Painful Death, ABC News
- Jury Finds for Whistleblower in Trinity Industries Guardrail Case, Dallas Morning News
- The Safety Institute Releases Study Questioning Safety of Guardrail End Terminals, The Safety Institute
- Memo Re: ET-Plus W-Beam Guardrail Terminal, Federal Highway Administration