nyc train station

New York is home to numerous train systems including the New Jersey Transit, Amtrak, Long Island Railroad, Metro-North, PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson), and the New Jersey Rail and Port Authority. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, there were a total of 8,363 train accidents reported in 2021. Of the over eight thousand accidents reported, there were 822 fatalities. Thankfully, train accidents do not occur as often as other forms of transportation. However, when they do occur, they result in severe injuries and even fatalities. 

The most common cause of train accidents is negligence. In New York, railroad workers owe their passengers a duty of care as a common carrier. A common carrier is an individual who is responsible for providing public transportation services. Railroad conductors, diesel mechanics, and signal operators are among a few of the many railroad employees responsible for ensuring the safety of passengers as common carriers. As a common carrier, railroad workers have a duty to conduct their work in the same manner as a reasonable prudent railroad worker under similar circumstances. When a railroad worker’s conduct falls below this standard of care, they have breached their duty. If an individual is injured because of the worker’s breach, the railroad may be liable for negligence. If the railroad is found liable for the injury, the passenger may be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering, lost earnings, and medical bills.  

Human error is the second leading cause of train accidents. Inexperienced railroad workers can easily make mistakes. However, fatigue plagues both experienced and inexperienced railway workers. Each year, New Yorkers take over one billion individual train rides. To ensure that passengers can commute with ease, railroad work must work long hours, often from early in the morning to late in the evening. To better understand the pressures faced by railroad workers, the United States Department of Transportation examined the effect of fatigue in the United States railroad industry. The study concluded that the risk of an accident caused by human error is elevated from eleven percent to sixty-five percent by exposure to fatigue. Moreover, the amount of sleep and the time of day when sleep occurs account for eighty-five percent to ninety-six percent of fatigue exposure. Work schedules determine the amount and time of day of sleep. As a result, dispatchers and train and engine workers have the highest exposure to fatigue due to their unconventional work schedules. In addition, stress is a major contributor to railway accidents. When posed with an obstacle, railroad operators face significant pressure to make decisions without time to consider the possible outcomes. This pressure can lead even experienced railway operators to make errors.  

Another leading cause of railroad accidents is mechanical failures. Common mechanical failures include faulty communication equipment, damaged railroad tracks, and signal malfunctions. The subway system, operated by the New York City Transit Authority, is responsible for six hundred miles of tracks alone. Many of these tracks are decades old. Also, the sheer magnitude of the railroad system means that hazardous conditions are often overlooked. Unfortunately, train and engine workers charged with maintaining the safety of the railroads are among the most susceptible to fatigue, which in turn, leads to mistakes. For a train operating at full speed, these hidden hazards can cause severe injuries and even fatalities.  

In New York State, train accidents are categorized as negligence cases. The statute of limitations allows an injured party three years to file a claim against the negligent party. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Thus, if you are injured in a train accident, it is important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Do not hesitate to contact our experienced attorneys at TonaLaw to schedule a free, confidential case evaluation by calling 833-866-2529 (833-TONALAW).  

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