Guardrails are designed to absorb and redistribute impact when a vehicle leaves the roadway. This reduces the severity of many collisions and can help vehicles stay safer in the event of a collision or loss of control. Especially in areas near canals and bayous, effective guardrails can be the difference between a survivable event and a fatal occurrence.
There are federal and state safety standards governing where and how guardrails should be installed and safety requirements that they must meet. If a guardrail fails to perform at the standard, you may have a legal claim against the state or local government (for failing to install or maintain safe guardrails in accordance with their own regulations and duty to maintain safe roadways) or against the manufacturer of the guardrail.
Numerous companies nationwide have been involved in litigation around the design of guardrails alleged to be defective, dangerous, or insufficient to protect motorists under federal and state safety standards. If a guardrail product was dangerous as designed or produced, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
If you’ve been involved in an auto accident involving a highway guardrail, you need to consult with an attorney to discuss your options. The attorneys at the Patrick Yancey Law Firm have experience handling personal injury cases involving defective, missing, and dangerous guardrails and can help you recover what you deserve.
Liability, Fault, and Recovery
If you’ve been injured in a crash involving a guardrail, or where the lack of a guardrail contributed to your injuries, you must prove who was at fault and to what extent. Determining the cause of any crash requires careful evaluation and assessment of the evidence. This can include analyzing:
- Police reports
- Photos and diagrams of the accident scene and vehicles
- Witness statements
- Expert opinions on the necessity or safety of a guardrail and its impact on the occurrence and extent of your injuries
- Scientific analysis of an existing guardrail and its performance
- Information on road conditions and weather
- Accident reconstructions or other expert analysis
- Data from traffic signals, in-vehicle systems, or other technological sources
In Louisiana, the court will attempt to identify who was legally at fault in the event of a car crash and hold that driver (or his insurance provider) accountable for damages. You cannot recover compensation for your injuries or other damages unless you can prove that another party or parties were liable for the crash.
Even if you are the victim of an accident, you can be held partially liable if you were partially responsible for the occurrence (for example, if you were speeding or otherwise disobeying traffic laws). This is called “comparative negligence” (Louisiana Civil Code 2323). This doesn’t prevent you from recovering compensation for your injuries, but it will reduce the amount of your compensation. If a court determines you were 10 percent at fault for an accident, for example, it will reduce the amount of your compensation award by 10 percent.
More than one person or entity can be held jointly responsible for your injuries. For example, a driver who is drunk or reckless may have been the cause of the collision in which you were injured, but the severity of your injuries may be attributed to the failure of a guardrail to perform properly and/or the government’s failure to install a guardrail that met safety standards. A court may determine that the other driver is 75 percent responsible and the manufacturer or government entity is 25 percent responsible.
Hire an Experienced Louisiana Car Accident Lawyer
Because of the many factors that can be involved in highway guardrail crashes, it is very important for anyone involved in such an accident to retain legal counsel with experience in this particular area of litigation.
A knowledgeable attorney will evaluate the facts of your case and advise on the best course of action to ensure that you pursue timely claims against all potentially responsible parties on all applicable theories of liability. This will help ensure you receive the most compensation possible for your injuries, vehicle damage, and other losses. You may be able to recover costs for past and future medical care, wage loss, compensation for your pain and suffering, and more.
The Patrick Yancey Law Firm understands the scientific, technical, and procedural issues involved in highway guardrail claims. Our experienced advocates will help you pursue your claims efficiently and recover the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.