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July 20, 2017

Defective Guardrails Linked to Seven Deaths

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Posted in Wisconsin Workers Compensation Related News

Two separate lawsuits have been filed against two companies over defective guardrails connected to three deaths in Tennessee. The families of accident victims Lauren Beuttel and Jacob Davison have filed in Cumberland County, while the family of victim Wilbert Byrd has filed in Hamilton County.

The guardrails in question, the X-Light Guardrail system series, were manufactured by the Lindsay Corporation and inspected and installed by Cumberland Guardail, Inc., two of the defendants in both lawsuits. According to the filings, guardrails that are made of multiple pieces should “telescope”, or slide into each other, when hit to absorb at least some of the impact. In the case of Wilbert Byrd, the SUV he was riding in left the highway and collided with the end terminal of an X-Light guardrail. A 60-foot piece of guardrail entered the vehicle and killed Byrd, and his family is alleging that the guardrail did not telescope and that Cumberland Guardail, Inc. improperly installed those guardrails due to inadequate instructions from the Lindsay Corporation.

Similar circumstances caused the deaths of Jacob D. Davison and Lauren A. Beuttel in the same state. Last year, Davidson and Beutell were riding in his vehicle when it went off the highway and hit the end terminal of an X-Lite guardrail. A guardrail beam went through the driver’s side floor board and pieced Davison and then went through the trunk, turned and hit Beutell. Both individuals died from their injuries.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation did stop purchasing this type of guardrail system in October of 2016 because of concerns over its performance. It is also planning to remove all of these guardrail systems from roads across the state in the wake of the accidents associated with them.

Families of victims say this system has been linked to seven deaths nationwide so far, according to WATE News. Tennessee is going to remove this guardrail system from their highways, but it still remains in use in Puerto Rico and at least 29 other states. Over 80 percent of the X-Lite guardrail systems currently installed in the country are found in seven states, namely West Virginia, Virginia, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Maryland.

A particularly vocal group when it comes to these guardrails and the threat they pose is the family of 17-year-old Hannah Eimers, who died in Tennessee in 2016 after hitting the end of an X-Lite guardrail, as reported by the Knoxville News Sentinel. As in the case of Davison, a guardrail beam pierced the driver-side’s door and struck Eimers, ultimately killing her. In that case, her family was erroneously billed $3,000 to replace the guardrail that took her life. Her father, Steven Eimers, has said that the devices do not perform at high speeds and that the issue is not taken seriously enough.

Defective products of all kinds can pose a very real risk to the public every day. If you have been injured because of a defective product, speak to an experienced product liability or negligence lawyer Denver CO trusts about your rights today.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into product liability and negligence cases.

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