June 13, 2022

NYC Subway Injuries: Can You Sue the MTA?

By Jonathan Damashek

Posted in

According to The Washington Post and the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), dozens of people are killed on the NYC subway every year. In many of those subway accidents, the MTA itself may be liable for injuries suffered by victims.

If you or a loved one was injured or suffered a fatal collision with an NYC subway train, you should immediately speak with a subway accident attorney. Your legal team can help you understand which laws apply to your MTA accident case.

Subway Accident Facts

The New York City MTA reported 169 collisions between trains and people in 2020. Of those, 63 were fatal. In 2019, there were 62 deadly MTA subway accidents in NYC.

Causes of MTA Accidents in New York

Various factors contribute to subway collisions with people, depending on the specific facts of the situation.

Some of these cases involve people who have been shoved purposefully or accidentally (due to high foot traffic) onto the subway rails in front of a train. Even in those cases, the MTA may be liable. In major cities worldwide, governments have installed barriers to prevent accidents, suicides, and crimes committed on tracks. No physical deterrence exists in the NYC subway system.

Other common causes of MTA accidents in which the MTA or one of its employees may be responsible include:

  • Train operator error
  • Equipment failure
  • Poor train maintenance
  • Lack of proper training
  • Poor station maintenance
  • Failure to install appropriate safety equipment
  • Signal failure
  • Poor construction

The MTA may not be the only responsible party in your accident. There may be other people or companies that contributed to your injuries. It’s essential to name everyone who could be liable in your lawsuit. Otherwise, you may forfeit your ability to recover total compensation.

What’s the MTA?

The MTA, or Metropolitan Transportation Authority, is the largest transportation network in North America. It serves approximately 15.3 million people in a 5,000 square mile area, which includes New York City, Long Island, southeastern New York, and Connecticut.

The MTA network is made up of the largest bus fleet in America, as well as subway and commuter rail cars. Operating agencies included in the MTA are New York City Transit, Long Island Rail Road, MTA Bus, MTA Bridges and Tunnels, and Metro-North Railroad.

MTA’s Role in Keeping You Safe

MTA has a duty to keep riders safe by taking reasonable precautions to avoid risks and hazards. If they fail to uphold that duty, they may be found negligent. If that negligence leads to an accident that causes a victim’s damages, they can be held liable for those losses.

Some actions MTA must take to keep riders safe include:

  • Properly training employees
  • Hiring qualified individuals
  • Maintaining all transportation vehicles
  • Maintaining stations and signals

These are only a few examples of the MTA’s duties to riders.

Other NYC Mass Transit Accidents

The MTA also operates a fleet of buses and trains that operate throughout New York and Connecticut. Those vehicles frequently have accidents as well. MTA can be liable for bus accidents and train accidents resulting from negligence.

Common Injuries in NYC Mass Transit Accidents

Whether a person is injured falling off the subway platform in NYC or in a bus accident, the force involved in a large vehicle crash can lead to severe injuries for victims. Some of the most common injuries in mass transit accidents include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Spinal injuries
  • Internal bleeding
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Lacerations
  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Severe skin burns

Many of these accidents are also fatal. Fatal accidents are common when riders have little protection, or the vehicles are traveling at high rates of speed. This is often the case with people who fall onto subway tracks.

Suing the MTA

While it is possible to sue the MTA for agency and employee negligence, these lawsuits pose many difficulties. While the MTA is not a government agency, it is a corporate entity that is considered a “public authority” and is separate from the State of New York.

It should be noted that New York City and/or the State of New York may also be partially liable for your damages, so you may need to include them in your lawsuit.

MTA Liability in New York

The MTA might be liable for damages if it or its employees were negligent for an accident that caused injuries. To prove liability in these personal injury cases, you must show the following:

  • The MTA had a legal duty to you
  • The MTA breached that duty
  • Their breach caused your accident
  • The accident resulted in your damages

The duty of the MTA to operate a reasonably safe operation is statutory. However, it can be difficult to prove that the duty was breached. Your attorney will need to gather evidence, including photos, videos, expert opinions, and eyewitness testimony to support your claims. If that breach caused the accident that led to your damages, they would be held liable, and you could recover compensation.

Possible Compensation in MTA Accidents

MTA accident cases are based on personal injury law. Your MTA accident lawyer can recover the following types of damages in these cases:

  • Past and future medical costs
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning potential
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional distress
  • Disfigurement
  • Physical limitations
  • Loss of consortium
  • Property damage

MTA Accident Wrongful Death Claims

If your loved one died as a result of a subway accident or another MTA-related incident, then you can obtain compensation for your losses. You may be eligible to recover compensation for any medical expenses your loved one had prior to their death. You can also recover for loss of inheritance, funeral costs, and burial expenses.

Special Considerations in MTA Accident Cases

New York Statute of Limitations

There is a time limit to file your claim, called a “statute of limitations.” If you fail to meet this deadline, then you may forfeit your claim entirely, no matter how strong your case is.

In New York, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case is three years. However, if you are filing a lawsuit against a government entity, you likely have less time. It’s essential to contact a personal injury lawyer who can evaluate your case and determine how much time you have to file your lawsuit.

Notice of a Claim

If you sue a government agency or municipality, you must file a Notice of Claim upon the government within 90 days of the accident date. If you miss this deadline, the court may dismiss your lawsuit without considering the merits of your case.

Taking the MTA to Court in New York

Many MTA accidents are settled out of court. However, if you do have to take them to court, they will bring a team of intimidating lawyers to fight your claim. You shouldn’t attempt to handle this on your own. You need someone familiar with the law that can protect your rights.

Hold the MTA Accountable for Their Negligence

When the MTA is negligent and causes injuries, they should be held accountable. This will ensure they maintain best practices and engage in safety measures in the future.

If you or a loved one was injured in a subway or MTA accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek today. Call us at (212) 490-5700 or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation.