Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf is a New York Plaintiff's personal injury law firm specializing in automobile accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, products liability, police misconduct and all types of New York personal injury litigation.

Articles Posted in Subway and Train Accident

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LIRR TrainPositive Train Control (PTC) could have prevented the Metro-North derailment that killed 4 people in the Bronx in December 2013 as well as several other fatal train accidents that occurred in recent years.

In 2008 after 25 people were killed in a crash between a commuter train and a freight train, the U.S. Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 was passed requiring that all railroads have PTC in place and employees trained to use it by December 31st 2018.  PTC requires that radio transponders be installed on tracks and on trains. The transponders communicate to each others and automatically slow down a train if it is going to fast or stop it if it is about to hit another train.

According to a recent federal report, two-thirds of the commuter railroads in the US might miss the deadline. The Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road are among them. Therefore to avoid a fine, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is considering submitting a letter to The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)asking the agency to lower its standards while deciding if the progress made by the LIRR and the Metro-North in installing PTC meet federal requirements. The letter proposal follows the recent introduction by the FRA to allow railroads to propose their own criteria for becoming compliant. The proposal also comes after the MTA acknowledged that the PTC system installed so far failed in several test simulations.

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LIRR_TrainA woman died after her car that crashed onto the Long Island Rails Road tracks was hit by a train. The high winds may have pushed the car onto the tracks according to the preliminary investigation.

29 year old Elizabeth Gallager lost control of her car near the Port Jefferson branch of the Long Island Rail Road in East Northport. She crashed down an embankment onto the tracks. A train plowed into the car around 2:10 am. The service was suspended for 5 hours. Investigators are not sure if the young woman died when the car hit the tracks or after the train hit the car.

Gallager who is a teacher had a second job at a restaurant. She was driving home in a powerful storm that pummeled Tri-State Area when the accident occured. She’s among the 9 victims who died in the NorthEast Winter storm.

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New-Jersey-Transit-trainThe 300,000 passengers who daily ride the NJ transit have reasons to worry about their safety. Last year federal inspectors scrutinized the New Jersey System and their findings are alarming. Just on train floors or passageway, inspectors found 140 hazards such as unlocked high voltage electrical panels with some of them containing paper tickets or touching bare wires. According to Nancy Snyder, a spokeswoman for the NJ Transit, the panels have been cleaned of the paper and locked reducing risks of fires for passengers.

Old, neglected and hazardous trains

Fire hazard is not the only hazard NJ Transit commuters are facing. During his two terms, the previous New Jersey Governor , Chris Christie, cut the NJ annual budget by 90%. Obviously what was left was barely enough to cover day to day expenses and the train system suffered badly. The fleet includes 50 year-old locomotives and passenger cars that were built in the 80ies and 90ies. Engines are old and neglected. Inspectors found locomotives were not in condition to operate with complete air-brake reservoir failure and misaligned foundation gears compromising the braking system. On another locomotive inspectors found that the system allowing traction on slippery tracks was broken.  In the accident that killed a woman on the Hoboken terminal, inspectors found out that the event recorders was broken on the lead locomotive. Several locomotives  were in use despite not having been inspected. Missing electrical grounding was common and suspension problems were found on a multitude of engines. Additionally  an employee was found playing with his cell phone while parking trains and forgetting to apply breaks.

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Positive Train Control can prevent accidentsIf Positive Train Control (PTC) was functioning, the recent fatal train accident between a New York –  Miami Amtrack and CSX freight train in South Carolina wouldn’t have occurred. PTC uses satellite technology and track sensors to determine the location of a train and to find out if there is a speed restriction or an obstruction ahead.

Unfortunately  wayside signals had been turned off for maintenance and were inoperative in the area of the accident . If they had been working PTC would have automatically slowed down the train and the accident may have been prevented.

PTC would have also prevented the derailment of the Amtrack train in Dupont, Washington last December. In the December accident, the train enginer failed to slow down before a curve causing the train to derail. This type of accident would not happen anymore if PTC was installed and functioning on all national railroads.

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New York Train Accident Lawyer Richard SteigmanOur partner Richard Steigman recently told the Lohud that he was disappointed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conclusions on the train accident that occurred more than two years ago in Valhalla, NY. 6 people were killed and many more were injured after a Metro-North Train crashed into a SUV that was stuck on the tracks. The NTSB blamed Ellen Brody, the driver of the SUV, for the accident. Steigman who represents several victims of the crash, was attending a recent conference related to discovery in Westchester County Court. During the short conference, plaintiffs argued that Metro-North was withholding relevant information.

Steigman told the Lohud “he was disappointed in the NTSB for not taking into account the actions of train engineer Stephen Smalls. Smalls, who has his own lawsuit, could have stopped or slowed the train down when he saw Brody’s car on the tracks.” “There’s another narrative here,” he said. “At the end of the day, it will go before a trier of fact, for a jury to determine (who was at fault).”

NY train accident attorney Richard Steigman represents:

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640px-Penn_Station_NYC_main_entranceThis morning a train derailed in New York City causing morning commute delays. This accident occurred early this morning at Penn Station as thousands were on their way to work.  Thankfully nobody was injured as there were no passengers on the train. The conductor and the motorman were the only ones on board. They didn’t sustain any injury. The train was a New Jersey Transit Train. It had just pulled up from the Yard when the accident occurred.  The train cars blocked several tracks before being lifted back to their track causing delays. Since the month of May 4 trains derailed in Penn Station. Penn Station is considered the busiest train hub in America. This summer the tracks are undergoing a massive 8 week project to replace aging tracks and signals. Commuters nicknamed the project “summer of hell” but most of them are tolerated as long as the project continues. This morning there was also a small fire in a train tunnel between Queens and Grand Central Station that forced commuters to find alternate ways to get to work.

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subway accident fire nycAnother subway accident occurred on Monday morning in New York. This time, 30 feet of train track trash caught fire in a tunnel between 145th street and 133rd street in Harlem. Hundreds of panicked passengers were stuck in trains as a smoky blaze developed in the tunnel. Thousands more passengers, most of them on their way to work, were stuck waiting in overcrowded sweltering subway stations.

The fire was reported this morning at 7:18 am by a subway conductor. Trains were stopped and an order was given to the subway conductor to stop the AC to prevent the smoke from being sucked into the cars by the AC system. The service was finally restored at 9:34 am. 9 passengers had to be transported to the hospital for minor injuries related to heat and smoke.

MTA Chairman and CEO Joe Lotha apologized and said the he would increase the effort in Operation Track Sweep. This operation includes 500 employees who are supposed to maintain the tracks clear from garbage.

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subway-derailmentA subway derailed in New York yesterday. According to the FDNY at least 34 people were injured in the accident. 17 of them were transported to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries. A baby and her asthmatic mother as well as other passengers suffered from smoke inhalation. The derailment occurred on the A train between 125th and 135th street shortly before 10:00 am. The train careened off the tracks and scraped the sides of the tunnel wall. In one of the cars a door was ripped open. The track division chairman for the Transport Workers Union, Paul Navarro, said the train “was peeled open like a can opener” According to passengers, the train started to shake violently and the lights started to flicker before the whole train was plunged into darkness and smoke. Passengers started to panic. Some used their shirts as a mask to protect themselves from inhaling the heavy smoke. They remained in darkness and in the smoke for at least 10 minutes until the conductor spoke over the intercom to announce that the train had derailed and that emergency responders were coming through the cars. Some straphangers were evacuated trough the tunnel and others through the train onto the 125th street platform.

According to preliminary investigation by the MTA, the subway derailment was caused by human error. A loose piece of rail was left on the tracks the night before by workers who were doing repair on the A line.

New Yorker’s have been used to getting delayed or stuck in subway cars countless times because of the aging subway  system but they never feared that they were in danger while riding the train. Recently passengers on the F train were stuck in a car without AC and without lights for nearly 3 hours.  However this accident is causing New Yorker’s to wonder how safe it is to ride the subway. Read more in the New York Times 

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A worker was fatally hit by a train in New York City on Saturday morning. The victim’s identity hasn’t been revealed as investigators are still trying to determine the causes of the accident and why the worker was on the tracks at that time. According to the Gothamist, the accident occurred near the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) Queens Village train station. The worker who was a LIRR employee was struck by a Penn Station-bound train coming from Huntigton, Long Island.

Passengers were stuck in the train at for least an hour before being evacuated and transported by bus to their destination. Many of them reported seing blood on the train windows as well as blood, guts and flesh on the tracks.

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train accidents 2016 statistics63% of all train accidents reported by the top 10 US  Commuter Railroads in 2016 occurred in New York City suburbs. The New Jersey Transit logged 21 of them (35%), the Long Island Rail Road 10 (17%) and Metro-North 7 (11%). These numbers were released at the beginning of the month by the  Federal Railroad Administration.

Most human caused train accidents logged by the 10 biggest US Commuter Railroads in 2016  also occurred on The 3 New York Commuter Railroads. Of a total of 33 train accidents caused by human error, 67% occurred in New York suburbs, with 40% of them occurring on the New Jersey Transit.

human caused train accidents 2016 graphThe New Jersey Transit (NJT) which reported 21 train accidents last year represented alone 35% of all the accidents.  The NJT, the third biggest transportation system in the US has been struggling with finance for years. Funds that were supposed to be invested in large development projects were used for day to day operations. As a result, commuters were charged higher fares for overcrowded trains that often suffer delays.