The Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) announced on February 5, 2018, that they were temporarily discontinuing the use of X-LITE guardrail end caps. Similar announcements have been made in other states, including New York. In January 2018, the New York Commissioner of the Department of Transportation stated that they were removing X-LITE guardrail products from New York’s highways.
These guardrails have been linked to a number of fatal accidents and have also been the subject of wrongful death lawsuits filed by grieving families.
After Several Fatalities, Tennessee Removes X-LITE Guardrails from Highways
Back in April 2017, the Tennessee Department of Transportation sent a letter to the Federal Highway Administration to inform them of the problems the state had experienced with the X-LITE guardrail end caps. In 2016, there were two crashes involving three fatalities where the guardrail penetrated the vehicle cabin.
In the letter, Commissioner John C. Schroer stated that the state’s experience with the guardrail end caps showed that they weren’t performing as expected. Instead of improving safety on the roads, they were causing more injuries and fatalities.
“Our concern is based on crashes where we have observed the impact head of the unit separating horizontally from the adjacent w-beam guardrail,” the Commissioner wrote, “sliding past this adjacent section of w-beam which then could and has penetrated a vehicle cabin.”
Tennessee decided to remove X-LITE products from the highway systems.
Family Files X-LITE Guardrail Wrongful Death Lawsuit After Two Fatalities
Tennessee plaintiffs filed an X-LITE guardrail products lawsuit against manufacturer Lindsay Corporation, claiming that the defendants defectively designed their product. The plaintiffs represented individuals who had died in an accident involving a X-LITE guardrail end cap. Two people were driving in a 2004 Toyota Solara on June 29, 2016, when they collided with an X-LITE guardrail. The guardrail didn’t improve the outcome of the crash as expected, but rather, allegedly made it worse.
The Toyota ran into the end cap, which instead of stopping the W-beams in the guardrail (the roll-formed main part of the guardrail), allowed the W-beams to penetrate the Toyota’s front fender, cowling, and floorboard, and to enter the driver’s side compartment. The W-beams also traveled through the occupant area to the trunk. These beams struck both the driver and passenger, killing them.
Virginia Has Close to 500 X-LITE Guardrails on the Roads
X-LITE guardrail end treatments are supposed to help absorb the impact of a collision and to prevent the metal parts of the guardrail from penetrating the vehicle. Unfortunately, there have been many reports of them failing to perform as designed.
In February 2018, WRIC reported that these same guardrails have allegedly caused deaths in Virginia, as well. On December 23, 2016, for example, a 37-year old woman was going home for Christmas when she crashed into an X-LITE guardrail end cap. Instead of absorbing the impact, the end cap allegedly failed, and the guardrail penetrated the cabin of the car, ripping the windshield open and peeling back the roof. The woman was killed.
Two other lawsuits have been filed against the company, with plaintiffs stating that the guardrails are defectively designed. According to WRIC 8 News, there are still close to 500 of these guardrails on Virginia roadways.
Exclusively focused on representing plaintiffs, especially in mass tort litigation, Eric Chaffin prides himself on providing unsurpassed professional legal services in pursuit of the specific goals of his clients and their families. Both his work and his cases have been featured in the national press, including on ABC’s Good Morning America.