Subways and trains can be either publicly or privately operated. In either case, the subway operator usually has their own team of investigators and/or lawyers if injuries occur as a result of subway operations.
State statutes governing subway accidents can vary widely by region, but it is often possible for a subway operator to be held liable for the injuries of their passengers.
In most subway accidents and injuries, the subway operator can be held liable according to a negligence theory. To be held liable for the passengers’ injuries, it must be proven that:
- The subway operators owed a duty of care to the passenger;
- The subway failed to exercise such duty of care; and
- The breach of duty was the actual and proximate cause of the passenger’s injuries (causation)
Under a negligence theory, it is usually most difficult to prove the element of causation. Sometimes a passenger’s own carelessness is the cause of their own injury, in which case their monetary recover will be lessened or completely withheld.
However, if it can be proven that the subway’s own actions caused the injury, then it is likely that they will be held liable for the passenger’s injuries.
What Types of Injuries can occur while using a Subway Train?
Riding a subway train can expose the passengers to various risks and injuries. Some of these include:
- Slipping and falling;
- Collisions with other subway or railroad trains;
- Injuries resulting from being caught in the subway doors or turnstiles;
- Injuries resulting from sudden stops;
- Electrocution from the train tracks or other mechanisms;
- Harm resulting from negligent repair or other unsafe/unsanitary conditions;
- Injuries related to debris, trash, poor lighting, or other types of obstructions;
- Exposure to dangerous chemicals, noxious fumes, or other types of toxic torts, especially if there has been a chemical spill on the tracks;
- Injuries related to fires or smoke (these can often be dangerous, as passengers can sometimes be trapped in small spaces); and/or
- Wrongful death claims.
Generally, to recover damages, the injury must have been caused by some failure or negligence on the part of the subway operator. The subway operator usually cannot be held liable for the actions of other passengers, including thefts, robberies, assaults, batteries, and other types of crimes caused by the individual passengers.
However, the subway station might be held liable if these crimes resulted from a lack of security measures, or if a security guard was present but did not intervene to provide safety.
Also, the subway operator generally cannot be held liable for secondary or unrelated losses such as lost wages due to being late for work (although loss of wages due to injury may be recoverable).
How Can I File a Complaint for Subway Injuries?
As mentioned, most subway operators employ their own team of investigators and attorneys to deal with passenger injuries.
Oftentimes investigations are conducted to relieve the subway company of liability for the injuries. For this reason, if you have been injured in a subway incident, you should hire your own lawyer to investigate the incident and researching the various subway injury laws.
You should start by filing with the subway operator. Oftentimes subways are operated by the department of transportation of the city or other similar local government agencies.
You should contact them and provide them with a report of your injuries. Your report should include:
- A detailed account of the nature and extent of your injuries;
- A report of how the injuries occurred;
- Reasons why the subway operator should be held responsible;
- Why you yourself are not responsible for your injuries; and
- Any eyewitness accounts, reports, photographs, or video footage.
Also, you should keep all copies of medical reports and receipts, including hospital bills and prescription records.
Some of the main causes of subway injuries include poor maintenance of tracks and errors on the part of train engineers or conductors. If you have knowledge or evidence of any defective conditions or services, you should include this in your claim as well.
Remember that the amount of compensatory damages that you will be able to recover depends on the nature and severity of the injuries you have sustained.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Subway Injuries?
If you have been injured during a subway trip or at a subway station, you should contact a local personal injury lawyer immediately, while the events are still fresh in your memory. A personal injury attorney in your area can help determine what your options are in terms of obtaining recovery. Severe negligence on the part of the subway operators can be addressed in a court of law.