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New Design Turns Guardrail Into a Weapon Rather Than a Protector for One NC Driver

By Brown Moore

January 22, 2015

Home News & Resources New Design Turns Guardrail Into a Weapon Rather Than a Protector for One NC Driver

In January of 2014, a North Carolina man lost both of his legs all because of a guardrail that was supposed to protect him. According to WXYZ Detroit, the man’s vehicle veered off a North Carolina highway and went head-on into a guardrail. That guardrail was supposed to take the impact and slow down the vehicle. Unfortunately, this was far from the case. Similar to other accidents across the U.S., the guardrail malfunctioned. It pierced the vehicle and severely injured the driver as well, resulting in the amputation of both legs.

At first glance, this might seem like a dangerous roadway accident where the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) or a local municipality might have been at fault. In fact, it turned out to be a product liability case that had to be prosecuted out of state.

Reasons Why This is a Product Liability Issue

The guardrail was definitely installed on a North Carolina highway, but its failures appear to point to manufacturer negligence, as explained in the lawsuit. Apparently, the manufacturer made a number of design changes without notifying the NCDOT. Although NCDOT had approved earlier models of the guardrails for installation within the state, the approval did not extend to any newer designs. Some of the main allegations in the products liability lawsuit are as follows:

  • The manufacturer did not notify or petition NCDOT or the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) for approval of modifications.
  • The modifications altered certain specifications that reduced the safety features provided by the approved guardrail and made them more dangerous than the earlier model.
  • The manufacturer knew about the dangerous conditions caused by the guardrails and distributed them across the country anyway.

Products Liability Lawsuits are Often not Brought in the State Where the Accident Occurred

Granted, the accident occurred in North Carolina and the victim was a North Carolina resident, but no parties from North Carolina were at fault for the injuries. The lawsuit alleges fault on the part of the manufacturer, which is based in Texas. Since product liability statutes differ from state to state, cases like this one may be tried within the courts of a state other than the one where the injury occurred.

How a Charlotte Injury Lawyer Can Help With an Out-of-State Case

Investigation for the causes of any accidental injuries must begin where the incident occurred. As such, victims must turn to local injury attorneys with the skills and resources to conduct thorough investigations, particularly in complex cases involving severe injuries such as the circumstances behind the guardrail claim.

Anyone who sustains injuries due to defective products should recognize that their claims may be brought against a manufacturer or other liable parties located in another state. Still, the preliminary work is best performed at the local level by a lawyer who can provide immediate advice and support even for a case that eventually may involve association of another law firm in a different state.  A phone call to one of our experienced lawyers can get the process started. Call 800-948-0577 or use our convenient online contact form to get in touch with a Charlotte attorney.