Common Causes of Guardrail Accidents
You probably pass guardrails every day and never give them a second thought. However, guardrails are an important safety feature on the highway. Their primary purpose is to provide a layer of protection for motorists who have drifted off of the road. When a stretch of road has a steep embankment or a drop-off, a guardrail can be the only thing protecting drivers and passengers. They’re also great at keeping motorists from running into trees, or other structures, such as bridge piers or retaining walls.
Unfortunately, while guardrails are intended to protect car occupants from serious injury, they can actually become the cause of it. In fact, guardrails are often ranked as the highest source of injury and fatality collisions in fixed-object crashes. The reason for many of these injuries and fatalities is the type of treatment used at the end of the guardrail facing oncoming traffic. Some end terminals have energy absorbing properties, however, some do not.
Accidents Caused by Guardrails
While guardrails are intended to protect car occupants and save lives, poorly designed or maintained guardrails can actually cause accidents and increase the risk of serious injury or death. In head-on collisions and T-bone accidents, guardrails may not have performed as they were intended to. This failure could be due to many reasons, including poor design flaws, defective installation, and improper maintenance.
In many of these fatal collisions, the guardrail itself actually impaled the vehicle due to poor design flaws. Guardrails are intended to telescope when they’re impacted. This is supposed to slow down the vehicle and absorb some of the impact to protect the occupants. When they don’t telescope as they’re designed to, the vehicle can be impaled by the guardrail end and occupants can be fatally injured.
Serious car accidents, truck accidents and fatalities can also be caused when a guardrail is not installed properly. Some construction companies and road crews may take shortcuts when it comes to installing guardrails or they may simply not install them properly out of lack of knowledge. For example, a Federal Highway Administration survey found that guardrail installation crews often struggled when installing X-LITE end terminals because the instructions on proper placement and installation were unclear. This created a serious hazard on the road when accidents occurred.
In many fatal guardrail collisions, the guardrail was not designed or installed at a proper height. Height is critical when considering how a guardrail may prevent a fatal accident and save someone’s life. Guardrails that are not built high enough, may not prevent vehicles from jumping over them. Likewise, guardrails that are built too high can create too much space beneath them, allowing motorcyclists to slide underneath.
In addition to poorly designed or manufactured guardrails, some guardrails are simply not maintained properly and can become dilapidated over time. The ground around them may erode and they may no longer be able to withstand the forces of an accident. When this occurs, your local, state, or federal government may be held accountable for the accident and the injuries involved.
Accidents Caused by Lack of Guardrails
Across the country, there are numerous dangerous roads that don’t have the guardrails installed to prevent serious accidents from occurring. These roads may have a high risk for a head-on collision, rollover accidents, sliding off of steep roads with little shoulder, or careening off the road and into trees. When city, county, or state departments try and cut costs, they may fail to install guardrails on roads that desperately need them. When this occurs, they may be held accountable for any serious accidents that occurred on that road.
The amount of time you have to file a claim depends largely on who is to blame. While most accident victims have three years to file a claim, if your claim is against a government entity, you may have even less time. As such, act quickly after a serious guardrail accident.
We’re There When You Need Us
Guardrails are supposed to protect drivers from serious harm. However, when they’re installed improperly or designed defectively, these safety features can actually worsen accidents and injuries. When you’ve been injured in a guardrail car accident, know that you are not alone. You need an experienced and skilled personal injury law firm on your side with the resources needed to tackle these cases. At Rainwater, Holt, & Sexton, our Arkansas car accident attorneys fight aggressively for your future and will handle the auto insurance companies so you can focus on your recovery.
We’re taking care of you.
Contact Rainwater, Holt & Sexton Injury Lawyers today. Fill out a free contact request form, which only takes a minute, or simply dial (800) 767-4815 and tell us your story.
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