Unsafe Guardrails May Pose Dangerous Road Hazard on Georgia Highways


November 10, 2013

While many highway accidents are caused by motorists who disregard traffic safety laws and prudent driving practices, sometimes failure to safely design or maintain a highway can play a role in causing an accident, or can contribute to more severe injuries. As public entities face fiscal challenges, funds that are needed to make deteriorating roads and highways safer may be diverted to other expenditures. Public entities that are legally responsible for the design, maintenance, and construction of a highway or other roadway may be financially responsible for dangerous highways and other unsafe roadways when road defects lead to serious accidents.

There are many types of roadway hazards that may make a stretch of Georgia highway unsafe, including but not limited to unsafe drop-offs, unrepaired pot-holes, poorly planned construction zones, inadequate signage and heavy equipment or objects left in the roadway. In addition to these types of hazards, public entities may implement safety measures that are not properly tested so that drivers face danger from the so-called safety measure during a collision. Guardrails are one common form of highway safety feature that can increase the severity and probability of serious injury during a car crash.

Guardrails may come in various forms in terms of the design and construction, but some guardrails that have been documented to potentially increase the severity of injury in a motor vehicle accident include:

Blunt End Guardrails: Although the use of these guardrails have been prohibited by the Federal Highway Administration, there are still some that have not been removed. Because the end treatments on these guardrails do not collapse when the barrier is struck by a vehicle, a collision with this type of guardrail can result in permanent injury and even wrongful death.

Turn Down Guardrails: These guardrails derive their name from the physical feature of having turned down end treatments. This type of guardrail is considered so unsafe that the Federal Highway Administration prohibited installation of these types of guardrails almost two decades ago. Although some states have been pro-active about removing turn down guardrails, other states have been slower to remove these dangerous highway road hazards. Although these guardrails can contribute to an accident or more debilitating injuries in a number of ways, the most common type of collision caused by this type of guardrail involves medium or smaller size vehicles that ride along the guardrail rather than collapsing the guardrail. When this occurs, a relatively lighter passenger car may rollover or be launched into oncoming traffic.

Improperly Placed Guardrails: Sometimes government entities install guardrails in areas where the roadway slope adjacent to the highway does not make a guardrail necessary. The placement of a guardrail in these areas increases the risk that a vehicle may rollover or be propelled into another vehicle after impacting the guardrail. By contrast, the driver might be able to simply stop the vehicle without tipping over or being propelled into traffic if there was no guardrail between the highway and the adjacent terrain.

Claims against a government entity are complicated by the fact that they may have "immunity" from liablity in a wide range of circumstances.  Additionally, special shorter time deadlines and precise notification requirements must be complied with to pursue a claim.  Speak to an experienced Atlanta car accident attorney who can review your situation and advise you as to the merits of your claim, and the steps that need to be taken to protect your rights.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 30 Years of Experience to Work For You

If you have been injured in a collision caused by a dangerous highway, a government entity may be financially responsible for your injuries and vehicle damage. Our Atlanta car accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.