On-the-tracks incidents on New York subways increasing

On Behalf of | Sep 21, 2018 | Premises Liability

In a recent post, we discussed some of the dangers that those who ride the subway face. That proved timely, as The New York Times published its own article this week on the rising numbers of people getting onto the subway tracks.

While some riders inadvertently wind up on the tracks due to being shoved by a mentally ill person or predator, some collapse onto the tracks due to illness or disability. Yet still others attempt suicide in this particularly gruesome manner.

One rider was photographed standing on Grand Central Station’s subway tracks. The operator of the train saw him in time to stop the 360-ton train and avoid mowing him down. He clambered up to the platform before disappearing into the crowd.

Not only are incidents of people on the tracks harrowing to experience and witness, in some cases, they can cause hours-long delays to frustrated New Yorkers trying to get to work or home.

Anxious witnesses were relieved that the man survived, but many people were frustrated after the incident set off a cascade of train delays.

In 2017 alone, there were close to 900 separate events where a person was either on the tracks or struck by a subway train. If 2018’s numbers remain on track for the final quarter of the year, that total will rise.

One industry insider stated, “In New York, we have more incidents of people on the tracks than anywhere else I’ve worked.” He worked as a transit official in Toronto, Sydney and London.

Why people wind up on the tracks

In addition to the aforementioned reasons, people fall onto the tracks due to intoxication or impairment by drugs. They may be urinating or simply confused and unstable on their feet. Still others try to retrieve cellphones and other dropped items. On a few occasions, those in police custody have climbed onto the rails to escape.

Can the transit system be held liable?

It might be possible to mount a credible case that those tasked with the subway system’s maintenance are liable for a person’s injuries or death from a fall onto the tracks.

Each case would have to be examined on its own merits to see whether negligence played a part in the circumstances on the on-the-tracks incident. For instance, failing to have sufficient security present to deter people from pushing others onto the tracks might qualify as negligence.


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