This post is intended to discuss something that is so prevalent in our society that we just assume is designed to be safe, and never really think otherwise: The guardrail.
Anyone who has ever driven on the Massachusetts Turnpike, Route 128 or Route 495 is familiar with the metal guardrails on the highway; they're even used on side roads. But instead of safety devices, have you ever thought of them as dangerous structures? Probably not.
A guardrail is there for your protection. Its first order of business is to protect your car from dangerous structures or conditions – such as trees on the side of the road – or sharp drop-offs or slopes on the side of the road. They are aslo designed to prevent motor vehicvle impacts with manmade obstacles such as utility poles. Its primary purpose – and perhaps its most important role -- is to deflect your vehicle away from an at-risk area (i.e., a sharp sloping at roadside, a tree or dangerous structure of some kind, or a body of water) if the vehicle comes into contact or impact with the guardrail. Properly-manufactured guardrails are designed to deflect your vehicle away from what is beyond the guardrail, help the vehicle to slow down, and "guard" the occupants of the vehicle from the hazard that the guardrail is protecting vehicles from. Ideally, a well-made gaurdrail will prevent serious injuries or fatalities in Massachusetts motor vehicle accidents.
So you can just imagine the horror of a faulty guardrail that, instead of slowing your vehicle down, malfunctions and spears through your car – slicing off one of your limbs, or impaling you inside the car. The aftermath can be devastatingly horrible.
It’s awful to think about, but just this week, a manufacturer of highway guardrail systems was told by a Texas judge to pay $663 Million for defrauding the U.S. government, for not disclosing changes that had been made to its guardrail system. This manufacturer – Trinity Industries Inc. – was also tied to at least nine deaths, due to its defective guardrails that malfunctioned and pierced through crashing cars. At this writing, Trinity is defending about 20 other personal-injury cases alleging that their ET-Plus guardrail system is defective. Last year, a jury in a federal trial had also found that the Trinity company had cheated the government by not disclosing changes that had been made to the ET-Plus system in 2005.
We all assume that the guardrails are on Massachusetts highways to protect us and safeguard all drivers – but the fact is, you can never know just how safe the guardrail is – until it may be too late. As a Massachusetts guardrail accident attorney and a Route 128 car crash lawyer, I have seen far too often the devastation that is caused by motor vehicle accidents, especially car accidents that hit a guardrail. You can never be safe enough on the road.
With that said, I'll remind all Massachusetts drivers to drive defensively, to drive as safely as possible, and to always stay alert behind the wheel. If you hit a Massachusetts guardrail on a roadway and are injured because the guardrail collapsed or penetrated your vehicle, you should contact an experienced Massachusetts guardrail accident lawyer.