Oklahoma is among the 39 states to recently ban future use of a controversial guardrail on highways in the state. The ET-Plus model, manufactured and marketed by Dallas-based Trinity Industries, has been linked to five deaths and several severe injuries in 14 accidents nationwide. According to a whistleblower, the company made a critical design change that ultimately impacted the function of the product. The issue is that, while a standard guardrail is designed to crumple in the event of a collision to spread the force of the blow throughout the structure, the ET-Plus model may be prone to malfunction and can penetrate the vehicle and impale, injure, or kill the vehicle’s occupants.
If you or a loved one has been injured and want more information on whether you may be eligible to file an Oklahoma Trinity guardrail lawsuit, contact Attorney Group for Oklahoma for more information. There is no cost for a comprehensive case evaluation, and if you have a case, we can connect you with an affiliated attorney who can be of further assistance.
Motorists Injured, Killed Throughout the U.S.
The ET-Plus guardrail end terminal was reportedly designed to push the guardrail to the side of a colliding car with the intent of slowing the vehicle to a controlled stop. However, Trinity allegedly made changes to the design of the ET-Plus shortly after it received federal approval of the product in 2005. Internal emails from November 2004 indicate that decrease from a five-inch to four-inch channel would use less material and save the company money.
There have been several reports of injuries and deaths involving the product, as it may be prone to locking up.and penetrating colliding vehicles with a force strong enough to impale the car’s occupants. Injuries can range from mild whiplash and bruising to head trauma, spinal cord injury, and injuries that require amputations or other types of surgery.
In October 2014, The Safety Institute released the results from a study in which its researchers examined data from Missouri and Ohio car accidents that occurred over an eight-year period. According to the study, which was conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and sponsored by The Safety Institute, the ET-Plus is 1.36 times more likely to cause an injury and 2.86 times more likely to kill someone than prior Trinity models or other competitors’ products.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) has requested all state transportation departments to provide information about the ET-Plus’s performance. It also advises states to pay particular attention to the accident scenes and requests that any pertinent findings be submitted to the FHA Office of Safety for further review. Missouri was the first state to ban future use of the product in September 2014, and 38 other states followed shortly thereafter.
Those who have been injured or killed in an accident involving a guardrail should consider seeking legal counsel to learn more about filing a lawsuit to recover damages for their losses. Plaintiffs in an Oklahoma Trinity guardrail lawsuit can seek compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more.
Verdict Reached in Trinity Whistleblower Lawsuit
A whistleblower filed a lawsuit against Trinity, claiming that the design change in 2005 was made without proper testing and without providing notification to the Federal highway Administration. While Trinity argued that it had maintained testing standards since the system was first approved in 2000, in October 2014, jurors in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas found that Trinity had defrauded the government by failing to inform the FHA of the change and returned a verdict of $175 million against the company. Under the False Claims Act, the amount could triple to reach $525 million.
Want More Information About an Oklahoma Trinity Guardrail Lawsuit?
Trinity may be faced with numerous lawsuits filed on behalf of individuals throughout the U.S. who have been injured or lost a loved one in an accident involving the ET-Plus guardrail. To learn more about your options and to determine whether you may be eligible to file an Oklahoma Trinity guardrail lawsuit, contact Attorney Group for Oklahoma. We can review your case at no out-of-pocket cost to you, and we can connect you with an affiliated attorney who can file a Trinity guardrail lawsuit in Oklahoma on your behalf.