In November 2013, Jacob Edward Spradley was driving to work when he lost control of his Mustang along I-20. Both Spradley and his passenger, James Stanley Joyner, were killed when a breakaway cable terminal (BCT) guardrail sliced through the car.
Melvin Hewitt, managing partner of Isenberg & Hewitt announced today that, as a result of a lawsuit filed in April 2016 in collaboration with Christopher Clark of the Clark & Smith Law Firm LLC, in Macon, Georgia, a $2 million settlement was reached with the GDOT.
What do you do when a guardrail harms, rather than helps?
As you drive down the highway, you probably don’t think twice about your safety. Regardless of the curves of the road, the amount of traffic around you or the weather conditions, you likely feel confident in your abilities to get home safely. However, next time you pass a guardrail, you might think about why it is there, and whether it would do you any good if you came in contact with it.
What the statistics suggest
Guardrails are often installed along dangerous sections of roadways. Designed to keep your car from drifting off the road, a guardrail is meant to protect you and your passengers from catastrophic injuries while driving. However, far too often, the guardrail that is supposed to protect you causes damage. In many cases, guardrails result in devastating fatalities.
In 2017, 411 people died in fixed-object crashes which involved guardrails. Of those, it may be surprising that 76 people lost their lives in related rollover crashes, as opposed to the far larger number of people, 335, who died in guardrail accidents which did not include rollovers.
Unfortunate circumstances related to a lack of safety improvements
Knowing BCTs were failing to provide protection to drivers when struck and the guardrail often penetrated the passenger compartments of vehicles striking them, the Federal Highway Administration instructed states to replace any damaged BCTs and commence a system of ‘systematic replacement’ as early as 1998. However, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) failed to act or keep track of these guardrails resulting in a number of unnecessary injuries and deaths.
Isenberg & Hewitt has handled cases involving construction zone incidents, roadway defects and guardrail incidents in West Virginia, Texas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Illinois.