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Lawsuits question the safety of guardrails on national highways

A manufacturer of guardrail systems is defending itself against lawsuits that claim the manufacturer knowingly installed unsafe and defective guardrail systems on highways in Florida and throughout the country. The specific product at issue is the guardrail head or end terminal, which is supposed to take cars that are swerving off the road and guide them off to the side. According to the plaintiffs, the guardrail systems do not perform as intended; instead they roll up and shatter or ram into the car causing catastrophic injuries and death.

The plaintiffs argue that, without notifying the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the guardrail manufacturer reduced the width of the end terminal and the height of the guardrail's feeder channel and then installed the redesigned product on federal highways. Plaintiffs estimate that hundreds of thousands of the redesigned guardrail systems are currently installed on highways around the country. In addition to death, victims have also suffered from internal injuries and severed limbs.

The manufacturer has admitted that it failed to notify the FHWA regarding the design change, but argues that the change does not impact the safety of the product as evidenced by the fact that the guardrail systems passed the safety tests administered by the FHWA. In defending itself against the lawsuits, the defendant denies that its products were the cause of the injuries.

If a manufacturing or design defect results in injury or death, a products liability attorney may be able to proceed against the manufacturer of the product to recover financial compensation for damages. These damages may include lost wages, medical expenses and loss of companionship. If the victim dies as a result of the defective product, the victim's family may be able to pursue legal action against the manufacturer.

Source: WPTV, "A guardrail system lining national highways is raising questions about safety and effectiveness", Shannon Cake, Lynn Walsh, and Jacob Carpenter, November 25, 2013

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