Have you or a loved one been injured: entering, exiting or while on board a train; on a railroad station platform or stairs; or in a railroad station parking lot? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. Federal government statistics reveal a 30% increase in passenger injuries during the last ten years. In the Northeast, many passenger injuries occur stepping into trains, as well as on slippery station platforms and stairs and in parking lots where “black ice” forms when snow melts during the day and re-freezes at night.
Passengers boarding and exiting LIRR and Metro-North trains continue to be injured stepping into the gap between the trains and station platforms. Some of these gap-related train accidents have received wide-spread news coverage. Following a 2006 fatality, the MTA committed $40 million to what they called the Gap Remediation project that is expected to be finished in 2012 and will reportedly leave a maximum of 5 inches between the train and the station platform. The project includes extending platforms with attachable boards and shifting train tracks closer to station platforms.
Slip and fall train accidents are frequently unreported by passengers who are embarrassed when they fall and don't want to call attention to themselves more than they already have. However, passengers in train accidents need to report injuries to ensure that they receive appropriate compensation. Why? Because if you have an injury on the railroad and don't report it, the railroad's claim department and lawyers will say your injury didn't happen on the railroad....especially if you don't get the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses.
Obviously, not all slip and fall accidents on and off passenger trains are appropriate for litigation. But, many are and should be pursued. Common injuries seen following passenger train accidents or slip and falls on railroad property include: torn cartilage and ligaments in the knee; spine injuries including herniated discs and fractured vertebrae; severe ankle sprains and fractures that sometimes require surgical repair; shoulder injuries, including torn rotator cuffs; and, traumatic brain injuries. Injuries frequently appear benign when they happen. It’s common for the victim to be seen in a hospital emergency room that only takes an x-ray that shows no fracture. Many injures end up revealing themselves later, when more sophisticated diagnostic tests like MRIs (that show significant soft tissue injuries not seen on an x-ray) are performed. If the victim has failed to report the injury because they were told at the hospital emergency room that the x-ray didn’t show anything, they could become a victim a second time when they are unable to pursue a lawsuit for their injury.
When you are injured on a passenger train, the train crew must report and document the injury. Don't let a train conductor who is in a rush to collect tickets brush you off when you report your injury. Cell phones all have cameras these days and should be used to photograph the condition that caused the accident. Similarly, if you slip and fall in a railroad station parking lot or on a station platform, be sure to report your injury to the local police or the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) police. In addition, if you want to sue most railroads in the Metropolitan New York area, you must serve a formal “Notice of Claim” on the railroad or MTA within a short time period, or you will not be permitted to bring a lawsuit for your injuries.
Most importantly, after reporting your injury on a train, on a station platform or stairs, in a station parking lot, or by falling into the gap between a station platform and a Metro-North, LIRR, Amtrak, New Jersey Transit or PATH train, be sure to obtain immediate medical treatment and document your injury and physical complaints. Then, consult with an experienced train injury lawyer to make sure you are properly compensated for your injuries.
The Maurer Law Firm can help you with over 32 years of railroad litigation experience. Ira M. Maurer, a nationally recognized train accident trial lawyer, is a founding board member of the Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys (ARLA) and has won over 1,000 railroad claims. From offices in Fishkill, New York, The Maurer Law Firm, PLLC represents railroad workers and passengers in communities throughout the Central Hudson Valley region, the New York City Metro area and the Northeast. Call The Maurer Law Firm, PLLC at 845-440-1172 or toll free at 866-534-7013 or contact us by e-mail to arrange a free consultation.