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Guardrail Failure Can Lead to Fatality

Posted on: August 21, 2017

The road along the coast

Guardrail failure has led to fatalities in a number of cases in which the guardrail failed to “telescope” upon impact. This design mechanism is one of the most essential safety features of guardrails. Therefore, when a guardrail does not perform as expected, the effectiveness and safety of the system is called into question.

The grieving family of Wilbert Byrd, who was killed on July 2, 2016, when he was a passenger in a vehicle involved in a guardrail collision, are looking for answers. The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, citing the guardrail system’s failure as the cause of their loved one’s death.

The Lindsay Corporation, which manufactures the X-Lite Guardrail system, is one of two parties named in the lawsuit. The other party is Cumberland Guardrail, which, the family say, failed to properly install or maintain the guardrail involved in their father’s death.

In another case, on June 29, 2016, involving the same type of guardrail, Jacob Davidson and Lauren Beuttel were killed when Davidson’s car collided with a guardrail. Both of the victims were pierced by the guardrail after it came through the floorboard on the driver’s side of the vehicle.

Despite several incidents involving the X-Lite system resulting in fatalities, the Lindsay Corporation maintains that their guardrails are safe and effective. Part of a statement released by the company reads:

“The equipment’s inability to singly prevent every tragedy does not indicate a flaw or defect. There are a variety of factors that contribute to the severity of impact in any instance, such as excessive speed, the angle at which a vehicle makes impact, and whether the equipment was installed and maintained properly.”

The families of Wilbert Byrd, Jacob Davidson, Lauren Beuttel, and several others who have lost their lives in guardrail collisions are not convinced, however. For them, this fight is not simply in pursuit of compensation. For those who are left behind, ensuring that other families do not have to go through the same pain is an important part of their personal healing.

While no product or mechanism can be deemed 100% safe and effective, manufacturers and installers have an obligation to meet acceptable safety standards. In these cases, the manufacturer and company responsible for the installation of the system are seeking to argue that circumstances surrounding the collisions were such that the guardrail was unable to protect the deceased.

That line of defense has done nothing to assuage the Tennessee Department of Transportation. The department made the decision to remove the X-Lite Guardrail System over increased safety concerns. However, this particular type of guardrail system is still found in a large number of states, including Oklahoma.

Additionally, the removal of this specific type of guardrail system does not necessarily spell an end to the issue. If lessons are not learned, more families will suffer the loss of loved ones. The lawsuits that are being pursued by grieving families will go a long way towards ensuring that the number of fatalities resulting from guardrail collisions is greatly reduced.

If you have been involved in or lost loved ones in a collision with a guardrail, get in contact with Edwards & Patterson. We can help you determine whether the guardrail failed to perform as expected. Together we can ensure that nobody else has to endure unnecessary pain and suffering.

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  • Contact Edwards & Patterson Law Firm today for a free consultation.
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