The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has increased its regulation over highway guardrail systems, closing a loophole that allowed manufacturers to make changes to older products without performing additional crash tests.
Free Guardrail Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one suffered an injury in a guardrail accident, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit against the manufacturer of the guardrail and our lawyers can help.
New Rules for Guardrail Testing
May 21, 2015 – FHWA has been under scrutiny since last October, when a Texas jury found Trinity Industries guilty of fraud for failing to disclose design modifications it made to its ET-Plus guardrail system. Those changes are alleged to have made the devices more likely to malfunction when hit, causing the metal rail to lock up and spear oncoming vehicles.
Under the new rules, which were published Monday and take effect next year, if a guardrail maker alters the design of an existing roadside device, it must be crash-tested according to the strictest safety measures, even if the product has been deemed safe in the past under older regulations. Manufacturers and crash-test facilities must also disclose any financial conflicts of interest, according to the new rules.
In last fall’s whistleblower lawsuit, Trinity was accused of making changes to the ET-plus guardrail system and not disclosing them, even though it was required to do so. The complaint was filed by whistleblower Joshua Harman, on behalf of the FWHA, but the agency chose not to participate.
A day after the jury reached its verdict, FHWA ordered Trinity to perform new crash tests on the ET-Plus, but under older guidelines, rather than the stricter standards that took effect in 2011. The guardrails passed the tests, even though some experts questioned the final crash, which resulted in significant damage to the vehicle’s door.
Before the verdict, FHWA defended allegations against Trinity guardrails for over 2 years, even after it learned the company had not disclosed the design change it made in 2005. In 2012, agency officials drafted a letter asking Trinity to perform additional testing, but the letter was never sent.
The U.S. Justice Department has launched an investigation into Trinity’s relationship with the FHWA, and in April, it sent a subpoena to Trinity seeking more than a decade’s worth of records pertaining to its guardrail products.
Do I Have a Highway Guardrail Lawsuit?
The Product Liability Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Highway Guardrail Lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new guardrail injury and death cases in all 50 states.
Free Highway Guardrail Lawsuit Evaluation: Again, if you or a loved one has been injured in a guardrail accident, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a Guardrail Injury Suit and our lawyers can help.