Family of Woman Killed by Defective Guardrail Reaches Settlement

In 2008, a Tri-Cities woman died after her car ran into a guardrail terminal along Highway 394 near Blountville. The guardrail pierced through the woman’s car like a spear. She died soon after.

In 2012, her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturer of the guardrail, Trinity Industries, as well as the State of Tennessee. They argued that defects in the design of the guardrail lead to the terminal head failing, which caused the guardrail to impale the car.

The state paid the family after witness testimony revealed that the specific segment of guardrail that the woman struck had been damaged for months previously. Despite the damage, the Tennessee Department of Transportation never repaired the guardrail. Because of this failure to maintain the guardrail, the state agreed to a settlement.

Which Guardrail Was Responsible?

The specific guardrail piece, the ET-Plus guardrail terminal, was removed from Tennessee’s approved products list after a federal judge in Texas ruled that Trinity Industries had committed fraud. The company, according to the judge, had illegally modified the terminal’s design without telling the government about the modification. That ruling is under appeal.

Despite potential problems with the ET-Plus terminal’s design, these potentially dangerous guardrail terminals are still in use throughout Tennessee.

Note that these guardrail terminals are not the same ones as we have written about in the recent past. That model, the Lindsay X-LITE, is said to be defectively designed in such a way that it fails to telescope inward after a crash, causing piercing injuries to drivers and killing a 17-year-old girl in November.

Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”


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