New York City has one of the largest mass transit systems in the world. In fact, New York subway ridership is very high. (1)
Yet, subway systems can and do experience accidents resulting in injuries and deaths. New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) says, “Most subway accidents result from slips, trips, and falls on stairways when someone is in a rush.” (2)
The Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation (PATH) serves as another transit link between Manhattan and parts of New Jersey. Sections of the system function like a subway and are subject to having accidents similar to those of the MTA.
Costs of Injuries
Victims of serious subway accidents often face the pain and suffering of their injuries, along with mounting medical bills, lost wages, time off of work, and other financial hardships. This complicates recovery with increased stress and anxiety.
You deserve to be compensated by the subway system for all this physical and mental injury caused by its negligence. If you, or a loved one was hurt, consider suing to get justice.
Are you facing expensive medical care costs after a subway-related accident? Call us now for a free consultation.
Subway Accident Statistics
Subway accidents occur regularly. In 2018, there was a 2.97 per million customer injury rate on the MTA subways. That translates to almost 5,000 people injured. (3)
The MTA also reported, “In 2017, there were 181 incidents involving customers who came in contact with trains: 44 people died.” (4)
These subway accidents often lead to personal injury claims. In 2018, there were 9,215 on-going personal injury cases against the New York City Transit system. (5)
Types of Subway Accidents
Various types of subway accidents can result in injuries to passengers, bystanders, and railroad workers. These injuries range from mild up to severe or even lethal.
Some of the most common types of subway accidents involve:
- Broken or defective equipment.
- Closing doors.
- Operator errors or negligence.
- Slips, trips, falls.
- Sudden stops.
Passenger injuries may include fractures or loss of limbs, traumatic head and neck injuries, spinal injuries, and internal injuries. Even electrocution is possible.
Passengers are at risk of injury when subway trains crash or derail — come off the tracks. As with crash injuries, derailment injuries may be from impact, broken glass, or other debris. In some cases, injuries can come from contact with exposed electrical wires or the electrical rails powering the trains.
Onboard passenger injuries are often related to sudden stops or from leaning on subway doors. The MTA recommends passengers always hold on when riding while standing in a subway car to minimize injury. (6)
Boarding injuries can result from mechanical malfunctions of the subway doors. Injuries also happen when items get caught in closing doors, such as purses, bags, clothing, or umbrellas. Subway doors, MTA warns, “…are not like elevator doors and will not reopen automatically.” (7)
The MTA cautions riding on top of subway cars (surfing) is illegal, as is riding while holding onto the outside doors (skylarking). Additionally, MTA cautions against boarding between cars. (8) These risky actions can result in serious accidents that you may be held responsible for causing.
Platform bystanders may be at risk of injury when subway trains crash or derail, or if standing too close to the edges of platforms. Platform bystanders risk falling onto the tracks if they get too close to platform edges. These should be clearly marked in most stations. Instead, MTA advises passengers to wait at the center of the platform near signs indicating where the train stops. (9)
Or you could be mugged while standing on a subway platform without proper security systems, such as a working emergency call box.
Mechanical failures can lead to injuries, as well. Mechanical failures can include problems with everything from lighting to tracks, elevators and turnstiles — even the tunnels subway trains travel through. For instance, an escalator taking you to your platform could malfunction and hurt or kill you.
Mechanical failures also include equipment on the subway car itself. This might be problems with doors, lighting, brakes, or even communication systems.
Railroad workers may also be injured. Railroad workers who must work on the tracks risk being struck by subway trains or electrocuted. Some injuries may not be covered by worker compensation payments.
A significant number of subway accidents are caused by train operator errors and can lead to injuries for passengers and railroad workers alike. These may be errors in operating the train itself, errors due to negligence, or errors because of inadequate training.
Were you or a loved one injured in a subway-related accident? You may be eligible for compensation.
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Causes of Subway Accidents
Subway accidents have many causes. Some specific examples include:
- Door malfunctions.
- Computerized signal systems malfunctions.
- Crew training is not adequate.
- Operational failure: speeding or improper breaking.
- Operator using cell phone/texting.
- Operator negligence: distracted, fatigued, inattentive, careless, reckless, or intoxicated.
- Track maintenance is poor.
- Wet, slippery floors.
Subway Accident Injuries
Common subway accident injuries include:(10) (11) (12)
- Abdominal injuries.
- Amputations of extremities.
- Avulsions (torn off body part).
- Chest injuries.
- Degloving (ripped off large skin area).
- Head injuries.
- Spinal injuries.
Subway Accident Settlements
Settlements are often possible when negligence on the part of the subway system is involved. However, you first have to file a lawsuit.
An important consideration in a subway accident lawsuit is who owns the subway system the accident occurred on, or the station where it occurred. While most are publicly owned, some are private.
Some states put limits or caps on compensatory damage awards — the amount of money you can get — in personal injury cases. The state of New York does not. (13)
The amount of damages you may receive in a settlement depends upon the severity of your injuries. Issues to consider are if you were permanently disabled due to your injuries, any related medical expenses, loss of earnings, and whether or not you can return to work.
There may also be damages awarded based upon your pain and suffering. In the cases of death, your family may recover damages for loss of a loved one.
What to Do if You Were Involved in a Subway Accident
The first thing you should do after being involved in a subway accident is to seek medical treatment. Medical treatment documents your injuries and medical expenses. This is important when you decide to take legal action.
If you are able to, you should document the scene of the accident. Take pictures with your cell phone. Get the names and contact information of witnesses, the train operator, other crew members, police officers and rescue workers who are on the scene. Your attorney needs this information to help support your legal claim.
It is a good idea to make certain a police or accident report has been filed. This further documents the accident and can strengthen your claim.
As soon as you can, get an attorney. You need an attorney with experience in accidents involving personal injury, such as the team at Weitz & Luxenberg. Your attorney protects your rights and helps ensure you get any compensation you deserve.