Maryland Car Accident Lawyers: Defective Guardrails Manufacturer PenalizedJuly 13, 2015
Trinity Industries Inc., maker of a popular highway guardrail system, has been ordered to pay $663 million for defrauding the U.S. government. The penalty was handed down by a U.S. District Judge who says the company made 16,771 false claims to the government and lied about design changes they made before installing approximately 200,000 potentially dangerous guardrails along highways across the country. The guardrails have been linked to at least nine car accident deaths and many more injuries.
The issue was brought to light when whistleblower, Joshua Harman, began a campaign to expose Trinity for what he says are serious flaws with the ET-Plus guardrail system. Harman, a guardrail engineer, travelled the country taking photos of the guardrails and posting them to a website. His allegations were supported by lawsuits filed on behalf of at least 14 car accident victims who claim that they were seriously injured by the guardrails.
Guardrail end caps, or terminal heads, are designed to absorb the energy of a crash, safely slowing the vehicle down and deflecting the guardrail to the side. Trinity’s ET Plus guardrails received federal and state approvals in the 1990s after crash tests proved the guardrail’s ingenious design would reduce highway car accident injuries and fatalities. Sometime between 2002 and 2005; however, Trinity made a change to the original design, reducing the width of the feeder channel on the terminal head from five inches wide to four. The change was allegedly made in order to save the company two dollars per unit.
Design Change Proves Fatal
Trinity failed to disclose the design change to the Federal Highway Administration. According to Harman’s whistleblower lawsuit and the more than 20 personal injury lawsuits filed against the company, the change caused the guardrails to malfunction in real world accidents. Instead of collapsing and being forced to the side, the W-shaped guardrail head would jam, forcing the steel straight through the vehicle, impaling and in some cases killing the driver.
Trinity has stated that they will appeal the court’s decision following the two months of further testing mandated by the FHWA. Several states across the country have already stopped new installation of the ET Plus guardrail, while other states have gone as far as to say they plan to replace the already installed systems along their highways.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers of LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Victims Injured in Guardrail Accidents
If you or a loved one has sustained serious car accident injuries after colliding with a guardrail, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the dedicated Maryland car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton to schedule a free consultation and discuss your possible Maryland personal injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit. A member of our experienced legal team is available to answer your questions 24 hours a day by calling 410-727-4991 or 800-547-4LAW (4529), or you can contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Maryland, and we represent those in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Towson, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Glen Burnie, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood and Elkridge.