UPDATE: Family files lawsuit against guardrail maker after deadly McMinn Co. crash
The suit filed Tuesday seeks relief for physical, mental, and financial damages incurred by the Eimers family as the result of their daughter's death.
The family of a teen who died when her car hit a guardrail in McMinn County is suing the manufacturer of the guardrail.
They're seeking relief for physical, mental, and financial damages as a result of their daughter's death.
Seventeen-year-old Hannah Eimers was driving on I-75 North when her car left the road last November.
The family said instead of collapsing, the Lindsay X-Lite guardrail impaled Eimers' car and killed her.
TDOT is in the process of removing and replacing that guardrail model across the state.
Next week will mark a year since 17-year-old Hannah Eimers. In June of 2017, the Eimers family was accidentally billed $3,000 for damage to the guardrail.
Her family is suing the companies that manufactured and installed the Lindsay X-Lite guardrail end terminal they say killed her.
"They're supposed to be a safety measure in case a vehicle departs the roadway," Jennifer Flynn, a spokeswoman for TDOT said.
In this case, Eimers' family says that didn't happen.
Her father, Steve Eimers, issued a statement about the lawsuit:
“Every day, my family must confront the never-ending nightmare of losing our beautiful daughter Hannah, a pain shared by many others across this country who have seen precious lives cut short by this dangerous product.”
Jennifer Flynn with the Tennessee Department of Transportation said the product will soon no longer be on the roads in Tennessee.
Stricter federal guidelines will start in 2019. Flynn said Tennessee is being proactive and making the move now.
"Safety is our number one concern, so we want to make sure what we put out there is going to work as it's supposed to and we just decided since we are replacing all of these terminals, now would be a good time to implement the new tougher standards," Flynn said.
The Eimers family isn't alone with their lawsuit. Back in June, Malcolm Byrd sued those companies after his father hit that same type of guardrail near the I-75/I-24 split in Hamilton County.
The changes come at a price. On average, TDOT spends about a $1 million per year to replace them from crashes in the Chattanooga area. That number will increase to more than $3 million for this project.
"What we're trying to do is make sure our roadways are as safe as they can be and if it means removing and replacing hardware, that's what we do," Flynn said.
Lindsay Transportation Solutions issued the following statement in response to the lawsuit Tuesday:
“Lindsay Transportation Solutions’ top priority is to provide solutions that reduce the number and severity of injuries sustained in automobile accidents.
X-LITE has successfully passed crash and safety tests in accordance with Federal standards and criteria, and remains eligible for Federal transportation funding. There is no road safety equipment that can prevent injury every time a driver fails to stay on the road, but X-Lite has reduced the number and severity of injuries sustained in automobile accidents. A variety of factors contribute to the potential for injury when a driver fails to stay on the road, including speed, the angle at which a vehicle makes impact, and whether road safety equipment is installed and maintained properly."
The Lindsay X-Lite, which was removed from TDOT's approved list of terminal devices just one week before the fatal crash, citing "concerns about potential long-term performance issues" when vehicles exceed 45 miles per hour. The speed limit on the stretch of road where Hannah Eimers crashed is 70 miles per hour.
TDOT will remove more than 1,800 X-Lites installed across the state.
Crews are expected to have all of the guardrails removed and replaced by next June. TDOT said there are about 100 in Hamilton County.