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New Jersey Guardrail Accident Lawyer

Guardrail AccidentGuardrails are designed to mitigate the impact of collisions and protect people from serious injury or death. But in far too many situations, guardrails can become lethal hazards in the event of a crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Unfortunately, a guardrail is not always a forgiving object to strike. In the United States in 2005, there were 1,189 fatal crashes and 35,000 injurious crashes into guardrails [NHTSA, 2006a].” Collisions with guardrail end terminals were more likely to result in serious injury or death.

When a guardrail fails to operate correctly, there could be any number of adverse outcomes. The guardrail could end up spearing a vehicle, thereby threatening its occupants. In other instances, a guardrail end terminal could lock up and ricochet an errant vehicle back into the roadway and oncoming traffic. Any person who is injured in a guardrail accident may be able to seek financial compensation through a personal injury claim. The New Jersey guardrail accident lawyers at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. are here to help you. We can advocate on your behalf so that you are fairly compensated for your injuries. You are always welcome to reach out to us anytime at 800-529-9997.

Liability For Guardrail Accidents

Guardrail accidents tend to be very complex events, and there could potentially be several liable parties. When assessing liability, several questions will need to be addressed. What company manufactured the guardrail? What was the condition of the guardrail prior to the collision? What entity installed the guardrail involved in the crash? How many other accidents have there been at the site of the crash? Answering these questions can begin to reveal what may have contributed to a guardrail accident.

  • Product Liability Claims: The company that manufactured a guardrail could potentially be liable for any collision. When a company creates a guardrail, they have to ensure that it is reasonably safe and complies with all regulations. If the design of a guardrail is defective in some way, this could form the basis of a product liability claim.
  • Municipal Liability: In New Jersey, guardrails are typically installed and maintained by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT). When this agency installs a guardrail incorrectly, this may constitute negligence. The NJDOT could have also failed to repair a damaged guardrail in a timely manner.
  • Subcontractor Liability: It is also common for the NJDOT to outsource work to various subcontractors. If a subcontractor fails to adequately install or maintain a guardrail, this could form the basis of a negligence claim. Guardrails can be very difficult to install properly. Technicians must be adequately trained and overseen by a competent person.

It is crucial that evidence is properly preserved after any guardrail accident. This will include taking photos of the accident site and interviewing witnesses. The police will conduct a preliminary investigation into what went wrong. But their report will be far from exhaustive. This is one of the reasons it is so important to seek the legal guidance of a skilled guardrail accident attorney. An attorney can help preserve evidence and identify all potentially liable parties.

Dangerous Guardrails on New Jersey Roadways

There are many different types of guardrails across New Jersey. Most of these guardrails serve their purpose, but there are several different types of guardrails that actually do more harm than good. In particular, a number of state agencies in the United States have installed what some have called “Frankensteined” guardrails. This could include guardrails that are assembled from a variety of different parts from several companies. What follows are just a few other dangerous guardrails people may encounter in New Jersey.

  • ET-Plus Guardrails: Trinity Industries is the manufacturer of the ET-Plus guardrail end terminal. These end terminals have been the subject of a lot of controversy due to design changes that can cause them to act as spears in the event of a crash. A number of lawsuits claimed that the failure of the end terminals led to serious injury or death.
  • X-LITE Guardrails: The X-LITE Guardrail end terminal is manufactured by the Lindsay Corporation. There have been several reports that these end terminals have locked up during crashes, resulting in catastrophic injuries and deaths.
  • Flared Energy-Absorbing Terminal (FLEAT): FLEAT end terminals are supposed to absorb impact energy during crashes. But a number of concerns have been raised about how effective these devices are following a number of real-world collisions.
  • Outdated or Damaged Guardrails: A number of outdated guardrails remain in use across New Jersey roadways. Many of these guardrails simply do not meet modern safety standards. Similarly, damaged guardrails can also be dangerous. Guardrails are not meant to be multi-use devices. They must either be repaired or replaced after any crash.

Efforts have been made to replace or upgrade dangerous guardrails across New Jersey, but these efforts have been far from exhaustive. Part of the reason that several guardrails and guardrail end terminals are unsafe is that they are simply not tested rigorously enough. Indeed, the tests that manufacturers use to gauge guardrail safety are often flawed from the start. They may have test vehicles hit their guardrails perfectly head-on. But very few real-world guardrail collisions occur like this. Instead, most vehicles hit guardrails at shallow angles, which can dramatically impact how an end terminal performs.

Common Injuries Associated With Guardrail Accidents

Guardrail collisions can often be catastrophic. They may have involved collisions where vehicles decelerated rapidly from high speeds. Several collisions involved a guardrail piercing a vehicle. A number of other crashes have led to the vehicle involved becoming airborne or rolling over. Here are some of the common injuries reported after guardrail collisions.

  • Head and Brain Injuries: When a guardrail fails to decelerate a vehicle properly, this can cause a driver’s or passenger’s head to be thrown forward violently. This can cause concussions and more severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: A number of guardrail collisions have resulted in drivers and passengers suffering severe spinal cord injuries. Any damage to a person’s spine may result in partial or complete paralysis.
  • Amputations: If any portion of a guardrail spears a vehicle, this can cause amputations of a person’s legs or arms.
  • Chest and Abdominal Injuries: The force of a guardrail collision can break a person’s ribs. Moreover, those initial fractures can cause severe damage to a person’s internal organs, such as their liver, spleen, and lungs.
  • Broken Bones: It is common for accident victims to suffer from broken bones and fractures. These can be particularly common in a person’s wrists, arms, legs, and neck.

The severity of any injuries will typically depend on the speed of the vehicle involved and the condition of the guardrail. Even if a person heals physically from a guardrail collision, many victims are left with long-term psychological injuries such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Being able to recover from a guardrail collision requires that accident victims seek medical care as early as possible.

Why You Should Hire A Guardrail Accident Attorney

Guardrail accidents can be extremely difficult for both victims and their families. Accident victims may need to take long periods of time away from work. They may also be left with high medical bills. In many situations, people may never be able to return to their previous position. Outside of work, the injuries from a guardrail accident can substantially impair a person’s ability to perform everyday activities and enjoy their life. There are several reasons to hire an attorney after any guardrail collision.

  • Identifying Liable Parties: Police departments are not in the business of identifying liable parties after a guardrail accident. If anything, they will nearly always blame the victims. An attorney can work to determine if a guardrail was defective and what entities could be liable for the crash.
  • Medical Treatment and Compensation: Hiring an attorney to represent you in any guardrail claim can help you receive medical treatment and compensation. This can be especially important for victims who have lost income.
  • No Up-Front Costs: There are no up-front costs associated with hiring an attorney. Moreover, they only get paid from the opposing party if they are able to successfully resolve your claim.
  • Negotiating Settlements: Successfully resolving any guardrail accident claim will involve negotiating with insurance providers. These companies are only concerned with keeping as much money as possible. Hiring a skilled attorney helps ensure that your interests are taken into consideration after any proposed settlement.

Winning or losing a case will often depend in large part on hiring a skilled attorney. Their legal expertise can make all the difference in the world. State agencies, guardrail manufacturers, and their insurance providers will often do everything that they can to deny responsibility for any guardrail accident. They have teams of lawyers who are fighting to ensure that their interests are always taken into consideration. A guardrail accident attorney can help balance the scale and ensure that your best interests are properly looked after.

Getting Legal Help After A Guardrail Accident

Team AttorneysIf you’ve been injured in a guardrail accident, the best thing that you can do for yourself is to hire an experienced attorney. An attorney can take steps to help you get the best possible outcome. They can explain your rights to you and let you decide how you wish to proceed. Even if you didn’t hit a guardrail, you may potentially have legal recourse. Many guardrail accidents are based on the legal theory that a municipal entity failed to install a guardrail in a required location. Particularly, guardrails should be placed around rigid fixed objects such as highway signs and concrete pillars.

Have you or someone you care about been injured in a guardrail accident? The New Jersey guardrail accident lawyers at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. are here to help you. We care deeply that accident victims get the support and justice that they are entitled to under the law. In fact, we have recovered over $1 billion in verdicts and settlements for our deserving clients. Whether you just have legal questions or need any type of support, we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at 800-529-9997.

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