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Caltrans Settles Case for $10m, Guardrail End Caps Put on Backward

Wednesday, February 01, 2017By Richard Alexander

Did you know that hundreds of guardrail end caps on California roads were installed backward? It seems almost impossible that such an important task could have been performed incorrectly, but it’s true. Ultimately, Caltrans decided to settle a big lawsuit brought by a man and his child for serious injuries suffered after the guardrail pierced their car because of the improper installation.

The accident took place in late 2012, when Mark Pappakostas was returning home from a memorial service with his three-year-old son in a booster in the back seat. Pappakostas dozed off for just a moment, long enough for his car to leave the road and strike the very end of a guardrail.

The design of the guardrail end guardrail was supposed to help the guardrail fold when hit. But it failed miserably to perform its task because the end cap had been misassembled. The result was that the metal beam guardrail pierced the Pappakostas’ car.

Pappakostas suffered severe injuries, including a leg amputation. His son was injured so badly that he was in the hospital for nearly three months, suffering through multiple surgeries. The boy is not expected to be able to finish school, hold down a job, or even to live alone.

Caltrans argued that Pappakostas was to blame because he fell asleep at the wheel; it also asserted that the guardrails had been defective because they were able to be put together backward. When Caltrans looked into the problem after the terrible crash, it discovered that 741 end caps had been assembled backward. Since that time, Caltrans says that it has corrected this problem. Still, it should have been foreseeable that a car leaving the road could be pierced by the guardrails because the end caps were backward and therefore not functioning as planned.

In the end, the guardrail manufacturer settled with Pappakostas and his son. Caltrans eventually agreed to settle the case before trial, also. It agreed to pay $10 million to the plaintiffs.

What should you take from this story? Defective road equipment can lead to bad accidents, and when it does, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss who was at fault and whether you may recover money damages if you file a lawsuit.

The San Francisco personal injury attorneys at Alexander Law Group, LLP will fervently work with you to procure all possible monetary compensation for you after your accident. Our goal is to help our clients and their families receive proper compensation for their pain and suffering. You can reach one of our San Francisco personal injury attorneys at 888.777.1776. Alternatively, you can our online contact form and we will get back to you promptly.

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