The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) — one of the largest public transportation systems in the United States — runs many of the subways and buses in the New York City area. Buses fall under the Manhattan & the Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority (MaBSTOA). The MTA also operates commuter railroads.

Many customers take mass transit daily and many get injured by it. One glance at news headlines indicates New York mass transit accidents can and do happen with some degree of regularity.

In one incident reported by the New York Post, “A man was fatally struck by a train in Manhattan … according to MTA officials and police sources.” (1)

Medical Care Costs May Require Litigation

For those who have been involved in mass transit accidents, the damage and injuries may be extensive, with long-term effects. Recovery can be expensive and economically challenging.

Litigation may be the best way for you to gain compensation that may be due you after a mass transit accident.

Are you facing expensive medical care costs after a mass transit accident? Call us now for a free consultation.

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Regulation of Mass Transit Systems

Companies are expected to provide mass transit services that are safe and reliable. Mass transit operators should make sure that passengers get to their destinations safely. And pedestrians and bystanders should not be harmed while transit operations are underway.

To ensure that the interests of the public are served, mass transit systems are regulated by federal, state, and local governments. This has been true throughout the history of public transportation systems. (2)

“The provision of transit in the United States began as private enterprise, often subject to local and state regulations to ensure sufficient and stable service,” says The National Academies of Science, Engineering, Medicine. (3)

Types of Mass Transit Companies

Today, mass transit companies are most frequently public (government) owned and operated. These companies are funded through a combination of federal grants, tax dollars, and fares.

Public mass transit systems often serve densely populated metropolitan areas that draw on a large tax base. They are typically cities, such as New York City, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Public-private partnerships (PPP) are found particularly in rural areas where state and local governments already use private contracting for services. In addition to funding through federal grants, taxes, and fares, PPP systems encourage financial investments from the private sector. (4)

PPPs include arrangements that “may be project specific, in the instance of developing a new type of service or constructing a rail line, or systemwide, in the instance of procuring new buses or bidding out all or defined portions of operations and maintenance.” (5)

One of the things all of these different types of mass transit companies have in common is that accidents and injuries still occur.

Types of Mass Transit Accidents

The New York State Department of Transportation collects data on the following types of mass transit accidents: (6)

  • Collisions.
  • Derailments.
  • Evacuations.
  • Grade crossings.
  • Multiple injury.
  • Passenger fatalities.
  • Nonpassenger fatalities.

Using mass transit can be risky. It can even be risky if you are not riding but in a car or walking.

An accident can involve not only passengers but also people in vehicles that are hit, pedestrians walking along the street, or bicyclists. Even bystanders and mass transit workers can be injured during accidents.

Were you or a loved one injured in a mass transit accident? You may be eligible for compensation.

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Crash and Injury Statistics for the MTA

A quick look at some statistics can show just how many people are injured on mass transit in a year. These numbers begin to add up.

The MTA breaks down accidents according to the mode of transportation and the system the accidents occurred on. These details were reported for 2018: (7)

  • New York City Transit – Customer accident injuries for NYCT Bus were more than 860 and collisions with injuries were more than 3,700.
  • Long Island Rail Road – Customer injuries were more than 180.
  • Metro-North Railroad – Customer injuries were roughly 73.
  • MTA Bus Company – Customer accident injuries were more than 135 and collisions with injuries were more than 500.

As of the end of 2018, there were numerous active personal injury claims and lawsuits against New York mass transit.

The approximate number of cases were: (8)

But customer injuries are not limited to MTA systems. There are also customer injuries sustained in accidents on the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH).

The Port Authority Trans-Hudson

The Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) runs in New York and New Jersey. It operates as a private corporation and is not funded by government grants or tax dollars. (9)

Like other mass transit systems, PATH has its share of accidents. One incident involved a tourist who had both her legs amputated after falling onto PATH tracks. The New York Post reports, she was hit “by not one but two locomotives …” (10)

And it is not just buses, subways, and trains that have accidents. There are accidents on New York waterways as well, particularly involving ferries.

New York Ferries

Ferry ridership in New York can be as high as 100,000 trips per day. (11)

While ferries may have riders fewer than other modes of public transport, they also have accidents that can injure many people at once.

For example, 30 people were injured when a water taxi struck an access ramp in the Hudson River. Passenger injuries ranged from minor to serious. (12)

It is not uncommon among victims of mass transit accidents to suffer serious or traumatic injuries.

Common Injuries

Whenever an accident occurs, you can be injured. When accidents involve mass transit, those injuries can be especially severe.

You may suffer from bad cuts, serious damage to your spine or other body parts, and even head injuries. In addition to causing permanent brain or body damage, many people die from these types of accidents.

An accident involving mass transit can damage your:

  • Spine.
  • Brain.
  • Ribs.
  • Legs and arms.
  • Feet and hands.
  • Muscles.
  • Ligaments and tendons.

Aside from the pain and suffering these injuries inflict, recovery requires medical treatment that can be expensive and last over a long period of time. Recovery may take weeks, months, or years.

Accidents of this type can result in: (13) (14) (15)

  • Death.
  • Brain damage.
  • Crushed body parts.
  • Amputation.

Naturally, it is important to all parties concerned to determine just what causes mass transit accidents.

Causes of Mass Transit Accidents

The causes of mass transit accidents are varied and complex. Accidents may be due to a combination of conditions and circumstances. Many, however, can be traced to human error.

Here are just a few examples of the causes of mass transit accidents:

  • Computerized system malfunction.
  • Inadequate crew training.
  • Poor equipment maintenance.
  • Operational failures such as speeding or improper breaking.
  • Operator distraction, fatigue, or intoxication.

Operator distraction is a major contributing factor to all kinds of accidents. One of the principal distractions for operators of all vehicle types is cell phone use, especially texting.

“Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed,” explains the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (16)

Steps to Take After a Mass Transit Accident

Immediately after the accident occurs, get medical attention. Your health and treatment of any injuries are your first concern.

The next step is to gather information about the accident. Take pictures with your cell phone, and get the names and addresses of everyone involved. This should include the person who caused the accident, other victims, and any witnesses.

Write down the number of the vehicle, too. This could include a license plate, bus and route, or subway car number.

As soon as you have addressed your medical needs and documented the accident, you should reach out to a negligence and personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney can help you determine who is at fault and what legal options you may want to pursue for any financial recovery.

How Weitz & Luxenberg Helps

Weitz & Luxenberg is a national law firm with more than 30 years of experience representing clients in personal injury and negligence cases.

These are just a few cases where we successfully represented our clients:

At Weitz & Luxenberg, our personal injury and negligence team has helped clients when they had nowhere else to turn. It would be our privilege to evaluate your case and assist you in determining your legal options.