A grieving father whose daughter was killed in a highway motor vehicle accident in Tennessee involving an allegedly defective guardrail purchased a television advertisement at a local West Palm Beach affiliate airing the Super Bowl in President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort community. The father did so in the hopes the president would take notice of the ad, noting the president had promised to address highway guardrail safety in his recent infrastructure plan.
The specific guardrail in question is one produced by X-LITE. It’s a brand that state highway officials across the country are scrambling to remove after a rash of serious and fatal crashes wherein the guardrail allegedly pierces rather than absorbs or deflects fast-moving vehicles.
CBS News reported that like so many others involved in these kind of collisions, the man’s 17-year-old daughter was killed when she struck the guardrail, which instead of collapsing (as is the reported intention of the design) acted as a spear. The guardrail struck the girl in the head and chest, resulting in fatal injuries.
The news outlet indicated more than a dozen people have died in the U.S. in collision with X-LITE guardrails and surviving family members say federal regulators have been extremely slow to act. It’s estimated there are approximately 14,000 X-LITE guardrails currently installed around the country. Numerous states, including Virginia, Tennessee and New York, have taken measures to have the guardrails removed due to pending lawsuits and safety concerns. In many of the examples and litigation cited, the vehicles involved were impaled with guardrails that were supposed to deflect or crumble.
In an awful twist in the case involving the 17-year-old girl who died in Tennessee, the state department of transportation erroneously sent her father a bill for $3,000 to replace the defective guardrail that killed her.
Our West Palm Beach car accident attorneys know that any crash-related death – especially of a young person – is devastating. But what makes cases like this unique is that they fall under a specific area of law known as product liability. Rather than the duty of fellow motorists to use reasonable care in operation of a motor vehicle, product liability involves the responsibility of manufacturers and distributors of products (including motor vehicles, motor vehicle parts and products used on highways and in traffic flow) to be reasonably safe for their intended purpose. They are also required to warn consumers if there are dangerous that might not be obvious.
Several states, like Tennessee, say they were left with no choice but to remove the guardrails because the installation instructions were unclear.
A product can be defective either as designed or as manufactured. A defective design would mean all of the guardrails are inherently defective – even if they are constructed 100 percent to specification – while a manufacturing defect would mean they were somehow erroneously constructed.
Although state transportation officials say any crash at these higher speeds is going to involve more serious damages and guardrails should not be mistaken for pillows, that doesn’t mean motorists should have to fear enhanced danger from these highway features that are supposed to improve safety conditions.
If you have been injured in a serious crash in Florida that involved a defective guardrail or some other dangerous device on the highway or in a motor vehicle, we can help you explore your legal options.
Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at David J. Halberg, P.A., Attorneys at Law, by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.
Grieving dad buys Super Bowl ad in Palm Beach to reach Trump, Feb. 3, 2018, CBS News
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Rear End Collision Creates Rebuttable Presumption, Not Immune From Challenge, Jan. 29, 2018, West Palm Beach Car Accident Attorney Blog