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Wednesday, July 27, 2016
By Stephen Wagner III

From the Bronx to Staten Island, millions of New Yorkers are potentially exposed to the dangers presented by one of the most expansive and sprawling public transportation systems on the planet. Just last week, a woman was gravely injured when she fell on the subway tracks at the Gun Hill Road station in the Bronx. She suffered severe burns after her body came into contact with the railway’s electrified third rail. The cause of her fall remains currently unknown, although the New York Post reports the 47-year-old woman was in cardiac arrest at the time emergency services personnel finally got her off the tracks. Another woman was also hurt when she attempted to help the fallen woman.

Last month, a jury awarded a man a verdict of over $19 million when it found that the New York City Transit Authority was liable for causing his horrific injuries when his foot got stuck between a subway car and the platform. The man, Hector Cabassa, was trying to get off the D train at the West 145 station when other passengers pushed him forward and he could not immediately free his foot when it became lodged. To his horror, even though he tried to get the attention of the crew, the train began to move. He was dragged along the platform but thankfully slipped free before being crushed when the train car entered the tunnel. Nonetheless, the bones in his right foot were crushed and his left calf was partially degloved when the friction tore off his skin. Ultimately, Mr. Cabassa spent two and a half months in the hospital and underwent eight surgeries to his legs. The 52-year-old man now has a titanium rod in his right leg and needs to use a walker to get around. The jury took just 40 minutes to decide on awarding Mr. Cabassa $19,125,972.00 for the Transit Authority’s negligence.

Interestingly, in New York State, a subway train operator can be found negligent for hitting someone on the tracks even if the person fell on the tracks due to their own negligence. This is known as the “last clear chance” doctrine.  As an appellate court explained in Sanders v. New York City Transit Authority, “where the operator of a subway train sees a person lying on the tracks abutting a subway station platform, from such a distance and under such circumstances as to permit him or her, in the exercise of reasonable care, to stop before striking the person, the operator’s failure to avoid the accident may be found to be negligence”. In that case, a Brooklyn jury found the Transit Authority 70% at fault for an accident where a 41-year-old man was hit by a subway train and lost his leg even though the man had been coming from a methadone clinic, was drinking pure rum before entering the station, and did not recall how he fell onto the tracks in the first place.

Louis Grandelli, P.C., handles cases involving subway accidents, PATH train accidents, Metro-North accidents, Staten Island Rapid Transit (SIRT) accidents, Long Island Railroad (LIRR) accidents, and more.

Since trains are normally managed by municipal entities, there are usually strict time requirements for filing a Notice of Claim and commencing a lawsuit. Therefore, it is critical to contact an attorney immediately if you have been injured on a train or at a subway station. At Louis Grandelli, P.C., we will retain the necessary experts in the field of train safety to ensure that we can establish liability for your injuries.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a train accident, or at a train station, contact us. We will give your case the individual attention it deserves.

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