The New York Subway system has provided city dwellers and visitors with a mode of transportation that is an excellent alternative to driving since 1904. Millions of people use this form of public transit every day for a variety of reasons including not wanting to have the expensive of a personal car or trying to reduce emissions that are released into the environment. The system isn’t perfect, however, and every year subway workers and riders are seriously injured or killed due to preventable accidents.

Common Subway Issues That Lead To Injuries

Despite the advances that have been made in technology, there are still numerous issues that plague the subway system today. The majority of issues that lead to severe and fatal injuries involve:commuters on the subway in NYC

Train Derailment

When a train derails it doesn’t just pop off the track and just sit there waiting to be put back into place. Frequently the cars flip over, crash into other structures, any non-secured items inside the car flies through the air hitting passengers unlucky enough to be in the way, and the in worst accidents, the passengers themselves are flung from the seats.

There have been 55 derailments in the past century, one of the most recent involving a train going at 40 mph in a 10 mph zone. The train, which was carrying more than 200 passengers including the transit workers’, derailed and hit a barrier, cutting the first car in half and folding the second car in half. Five people were killed and more were injured. The impact had so much force behind it that it raised the street above the subway by an entire inch.

Broken Handrails

It may seem like a simple thing but handrails are in place to assist people who are going up and down the steps to the platform. If the handrail is broken then it can result in a tumble down a set of hard stairs. Even a fall of just a few feet can leave a victim with broken bones or head trauma.

Broken Steps

Rotting planks, loose tile or carpeting, or other defects in the structure of the stairs are just as dangerous as a broken handrail. When stairs aren’t properly maintained accidents happen.

Train Collision

Collisions happen more often than they should. Recently, in April of 2016, a Toyota became stranded on a set of tracks on the Metro North commuter rail line when it stalled. Thankfully, the driver of the car decided it would be safer to exit the vehicle, which he did just in time. An oncoming commuter train was unable to stop and hit the car, completely destroying the front end of it. Thankfully the train didn’t derail but the impact did result in several injuries.

Electrical Accidents

The rails on tracks are electrified and if a worker’s body or equipment comes into contact with the track an electrical explosion can occur. These explosions can leave a worker with second and third-degree burns as well as damage due to electrocution.

Other Workplace Accidents

Workers don’t have to be on a train that derails or involved in a collision in order to become injured.  Injuries happen when workers are not given the proper tools, placed on tracks where trains are still running, or when they are exposed to hazardous or defective materials.


According to a writer for The New York Times, the number of people using the subway is at an all time high and the overcrowding has led to delays on trains and crowds lining the platform placing people at risk for being pushed onto the tracks.


With the overcrowding comes an increase in aggression as personal space among riders is invaded. In fact, the police have reported an increase in assaults both on the platforms and inside the trains. Even token clerks have become the victims of violence with an increase in attempted robberies made – a few booths have even been set on fire by individuals hoping to get the money inside.

The MTA has reported that they are working to find new ways to increase the safety of both passengers and workers, however, accidents still continue to happen, leaving many with injuries that will change how they live their lives.

What Are My Options For Recovering Funds

Anyone who was injured while working has the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ comp may provide the victim with compensation for their medical expenses and a small fraction of their lost wages. By filing a workers’ compensation claim the victim gives up the right to pursue a lawsuit against their employer.

However, in many cases, it is also possible to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against a third party. This may include the manufacturer of a part used in a train that was defective and caused a derailment, an individual who decided to assault a worker, or the driver of a car who decided to cross the tracks despite the warning lights and safety gates.

Time Limits

If a complaint is going to be brought against NYC Transit Authority, the victim only has 90 days to file or they will no longer be able to pursue legal action. If filing a workers’ compensation claim, the injured employee must inform their employer in writing about their accident and injuries within 30 days. For the statute of limitations in a complaint against a third party, contact an attorney for more information.

What Other Steps Should Be Taken?stairwell into the subway

After you’ve been injured in a subway accident you should do everything possible to preserve evidence. This may include:

  • Taking photographs of the location and your injuries
  • Obtaining an accident report
  • Seeking medical attention as soon as possible
  • Keeping copies of all medical records

All of these documents can help an attorney fight for your rights and obtain the compensation that you need to recover.

Can Markhoff & Mittman Help Me?

Yes. We have assisted hundreds of clients who have been injured on the New York Transportation System. Our team uses their passion, dedication, knowledge, and experience to obtain the maximum settlement or verdict for the client so that they can focus on healing and getting back on their feet.

Does Every Case Go To Trial?

No. If fact, most cases are solved through careful negotiation and a settlement. When working with an attorney at Markhoff & Mittman, they will explain all of your legal options and help you determine what is the best path for you and your loved ones.