Guardrails are meant to keep people safe. In theory, when a vehicle hits one, it’s supposed to crumple or telescope inward and absorb the impact, lessening the force on the vehicle and its occupants. But when guardrails don’t function as intended, the result can be catastrophic.
Hannah E., a 17 year old from Tennessee, was headed to school when she lost control of her car. She veered into a guardrail, but it didn’t telescope inward as it was designed to do. The guardrail speared into her car, killing her instantly.
Sarah W., a 37 year old from Virginia, was driving to see her parents when she swerved and hit a guardrail head-on, and Wilbert B., a 69 year old from Tennessee, was in the passenger seat of his nephew’s car when they collided with a guardrail. Both were killed when the guardrail pierced their vehicle.
In particular, two allegedly defective guardrail end terminals have inspired numerous lawsuits: the X-LITE and the ET-Plus.
There are 14,000 X-LITE end terminals installed across 29 states. The majority of these devices are in Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation has alleged that X-LITE end terminals don’t always work properly when hit at speeds greater than 62.2 mph, and that installation instructions were “unclear.” The findings were enough initiate the process of removing and replacing the end terminals, making Tennessee the first to begin the rectification process.
The problem, however, is that thousands of these guardrails are still installed across the country, so it will take time to get them off the roads. As Stephen E., the father of Hannah E., said in a statement to CBS News, “I don’t understand how you can leave a dangerous product on the road after you’ve already acknowledged it. That’s Russian roulette.” His goal is a complete recall; he wants all 14,000 X-LITE guardrail end terminals removed.
The manufacturer of the X-LITE end terminals has stated they have successfully passed safety and crash tests in compliance with federal standards.
What Should I Do If I Was Hurt Due to an X-LITE Guardrail End Terminal?
If you were injured or lost a member of your family in an accident involving an X-LITE end terminal, you might have grounds for a claim against the manufacturer. These cases are incredibly complex, so it’s a good idea to consult with a car accident lawyer who has experience handling similar cases.
Fortunately, most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations and are willing to accept cases on a contingency fee basis. In other words, you might not have to pay anything to get your questions answered and enlist the help of an attorney.
Before you hire a lawyer, make sure he or she is familiar with the case law and statutes pertaining to guardrail injury lawsuits. You should also read online reviews and confirm that personal injury law is one of the firm’s primary areas of practice.