New York Metro-North Accident Lawyer

The Metro-North Railroad is a train network that connects New York City with upstate New York and Connecticut, while also providing a local rail service within Manhattan and the Bronx. According to the 2022 annual ridership report, there were about 48.9 million rides taken on the train that year, which was a 59 percent increase over the year before.

Though the train is usually safe to ride, sometimes accidents do occur. With such a high volume of commuters, any error can lead to significant injuries or even death.

At Chaffin Luhana, our mission is to help restore New York Metro-North accident victims to wholeness. When we take on your case, we put our decades of national experience to work fighting for you.

The New York Metro-North Railroad

The Metro-North Railroad is operated and maintained by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) of New York State. MTA is “North America’s largest transportation network, serving a population of 15.3 million people across a 5,000-square-mile travel area surrounding New York City, Long Island, southeastern New York State, and Connecticut.”

The MTA states it is committed to “maintaining a transit system that is safe, reliable, and accessible for all,” and that it is “investing in systemwide improvements that will keep our transit system running smoothly for decades to come.”

In August 2023, Metro-North celebrated its 40 years of public service by rebranding a locomotive with a design that mimicked the paint scheme applied to older locomotives working from 1976 to 1982.

People who ride the New York Metro-North expect to be safe while they’re on the train. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

New York Metro-North Accidents

On February 3, 2015, a commuter train on Metro-North Railroad’s Harlem Line struck an SUV at a grade crossing near Valhalla, New York. Six people died and 15 others were wounded, seven very seriously. The crash was the deadliest in Metro-North’s history.

The driver of the SUV was caught between the crossing gates as the train approached. Instead of backing up, she went forward onto the tracks. The train struck her vehicle and pushed it along the tracks. In the process, it loosened more than 450 feet of third rail, which broke into sections and went through the exterior of the vehicle, killing passengers and starting a fire.

A later investigation found that the driver of the SUV was at fault for the accident, but also noted that the third rail should have broken into smaller segments during the accident. Its failure to do so contributed to the fatalities that occurred on the train.

About two years earlier, a Metro-North Railroad Hudson line train derailed near the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx. Four passengers were killed and another 61 injured, with the accident causing $9 million worth of damage. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) later ruled that a lapse in the train engineer’s attention caused the derailment. Instead of going 30 mph as was required in that location, the train was going 82 mph when it derailed.

Pedestrian Incidents on the Metro-North in New York

On February 6, 2023, a pedestrian was struck and killed by a Metro-North train in Peekskill on the Hudson Line. It was the third Metro-North versus pedestrian fatality in a week. The week before, another pedestrian was killed in the same area, whereas a few days before that, a third person was killed near the Dover station. All three of these incidences were suicides.

On April 6, 2023, another pedestrian was hit by a Metro-North train at Harrison Station. The victim was declared dead at the scene.

According to MTA, there has been an increase in the number of pedestrians trespassing on the tracks in recent years. Specifically, there were 20 percent more “intrusions” in 2021 than there were in 2019. There was also a spike in the winter of 2021-2022, with a January 2022 peak of 160 intrusions.

After evaluating the data, the MTA reported that most of the intrusions involved someone voluntarily entering the tracks. People experiencing mental illness accounted for about 20 percent of the intrusions.

When this happens, it puts not only the pedestrian at risk but the lives of commuters on the train. The MTA is working on making improvements to help cut down on these incidents, including incorporating more lighting, platform barriers, camera monitoring, detection systems, and video analytics.

Crime on New York Metro-North Railroad

Crime on and around Metro-North trains is another rising problem. According to a joint report from the New York City Police Department and the MTA, there was a 48.9 percent overall increase in total major felonies occurring on vehicles operated by the MTA between 2021 and 2022. There was also a 52.7 percent increase in total arrests.

A similar report released about a year later showed a slight 6.7 percent decrease in total major felonies between January 2022 and April 2023, though murder was up 33.3 percent during that time, and burglaries were up 66.7 percent.

The Office of the New York State Comptroller released a report in March 2023. They noted that commuter rail ridership had “followed the same pattern as subway ridership,” dropping to under 6 percent of pre-pandemic ridership on the Metro-North Railroad. They also acknowledged that safety was a main concern and that commuters needed to feel like they could use the vehicles without fear of death, injury, or property loss.

Commuter rail lines are often considered safer and more reliable than subway service, but the safety of subways remains a concern as commuters often transfer to subway or bus services to reach their final destinations in the city. In 2022, there were 2,334 major felonies committed on the New York City subway system, 1,183 of which were violent crimes.

Because of the shift in public perception regarding safety, the MTA partnered with New York City and State to add over 1,000 NYPD officer shifts to patrol the system through February 2023. Increases in enforcement have continued since then. Starting in January 2023, Metro-North and Long Island Railroad secured a dedicated unit of police officers to ride the commuter rail system to address growing safety concerns.

What Causes New York Metro-North Train Accidents?

There are many reasons why a Metro-North train accident may occur. The following are some of the most common.

Lack of Maintenance

Metro-North Railroad lines must be consistently maintained to operate correctly. The MTA is ultimately responsible for making sure the trains are properly maintained and repaired as needed. Failure to check all components and areas, using incorrect or low-quality parts to replace faulty ones, missing repair deadlines, and more can cause functional errors and increase the risk of injuries to passengers.

Weather exposure, as well, can wear down parts of the system if they are not regularly checked and repaired. Snow and ice can build up on the tracks, increasing the risk of an accident. Transit companies should regularly send workers to remove snow and ice when needed.


A derailment occurs when the train leaves its tracks accidentally. This is one of the most dangerous events that can occur on a rail system. Broken tracks are the most common cause of this type of incident, though faulty or broken crossties may also be to blame.

A derailment is highly dangerous because once the wheels leave the track, the train is likely to crash into the surrounding area, and perhaps into nearby buildings, vehicles, or pedestrians. This can cause extensive destruction and severe injuries and fatalities.

Debris on the Track

The MTA has a duty of care to remove any objects from the tracks before they can cause damage to the train or injure passengers. If this is not done in a timely and efficient manner, the entity may be held liable for injuries that occur because of debris.

Criminal Activity

The MTA has a responsibility to make sure its trains and stations are safe for passengers. Inadequate security may allow criminals to enter the train or station with deadly weapons. An inadequate number of security guards and/or detection systems may also make it easier for criminals to harm passengers.

Operational Mistakes

The train engineer may sometimes make a mistake. As in the 2015 accident detailed above, he may become dizzy, disoriented, or even fall asleep. He may have undiagnosed or untreated health problems that prevent him from being fully alert while operating the train. He or she may be distracted, inexperienced, or even drunk or high. Failure to properly operate the train can lead to crashes and derailments that have serious consequences.

Computer Failures

Many railroad operations today are controlled by sophisticated computer software. This helps automate the system and typically makes it safer. But computer errors can result in severe accidents. That’s because the software often controls things like how the tracks change directions, when a train should stop, and what speed it should take.

Errors in these sorts of functions could result in a catastrophe, such as derailments or collisions. If a computer failure leads to your injury, you may be able to sue the MTA or other similar entity.

Poor Station Maintenance

The MTA is responsible for maintaining not only the train cars, tracks, and systems, but the train stations and platforms as well. These must be kept in top operational condition and made safe for commuters. They should be regularly inspected and repairs made if necessary.

If the stairs or escalators are hazardous, for instance, to the point that they lead to an accident and injury, that may be a result of negligence. Guardrails and fences should be installed to prevent people from falling onto the tracks or entering dangerous areas. Accommodations must be made for handicapped and elderly riders so that they do not get hurt while boarding or riding.

High Speeds

Train operators may sometimes operate their vehicles faster or slower than they should. Certain speeds are posted along each route. If an operator is not paying attention or is compromised in some way, the train may end up going too fast, which increases the risk of a derailment or crash.

Slipping and Falling

Though people may end up on the tracks for several reasons, sometimes it’s the result of a slip and fall. If negligence is involved, victims and their families may be compensated for the damages.

There may have been slipping hazards, for instance, that were not properly addressed, such as wet floors, uneven surfaces, or loose debris.

Caught in Doors

It is possible for Metro-North train doors to malfunction, which can put riders at risk. There have been instances, for example, where people were caught in the doors somehow and dragged alongside the train.

In 2011, Metro-North launched an investigation into why a door on one of their trains didn’t close when it pulled out of the station. Instead, the door remained dangerously open along the straight run up Park Avenue to Grand Central. Fortunately, no one was injured.

Electrocutions and Burns

The Metro-North Railroad primarily uses a fleet of electric railcars for its services, but it also uses diesel locomotives and push-pull coaches in non-electrified portions of the system.

The presence of electrical power means that electrocutions can happen. Metro-North workers are the most at risk for this sort of injury.

Negligent Security

The MTA must maintain a safe atmosphere at their stations and on the trains and tracks. Incidents like theft, assault, harassment, and vandalism make passengers feel unsafe, and if allowed to continue unchecked, can increase the risk of injury and death.

Passengers should expect that the transit system will have surveillance cameras, well-lit and properly maintained stations and platforms, security personnel, and emergency response protocols that help keep crime to a minimum. Trains should also undergo regular security audits and evaluations to identify any weaknesses or gaps in security.

When to Hire a New York Metro-North Train Accident Lawyer

If you were injured while on the New York Metro-North train, you owe it to yourself to seek legal assistance.

You have the right to sue the MTA or the city where the incident took place if you believe they were negligent in your accident. Since these are government entities, you have to do so quickly—within 90 days. If you believe the train operator was responsible or partially responsible, you may also be able to file a claim against that person.

Claims against government entities tend to be more complex than those against private companies. You have less time to file a complaint, and there are many technical legal rules, as well as limitations on the types of damages available. Having an experienced New York Metro-North train attorney on your side can help increase your odds of winning the compensation you deserve.

If another individual caused the accident, you may also be able to file a personal injury claim against them. Or if a third party was involved—such as the train engineering company that negligently designed the train or the rails—you may also have a claim against them.

Your New York Metro-North train lawyer can help you thoroughly investigate the case so that you make sure you find all possible avenues of recovery.

The bottom line is this: Yes, suing the MTA or a similar entity can be complicated, but if you suffered severe injuries that will significantly impact your life and your future, your attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the law to help cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

How to Choose the Right New York Metro-North Train Accident Lawyer

There are a lot of New York train accident attorneys. To help avoid feeling overwhelmed by your choices, follow these steps when making your selection.

Do Your Research

Ask your friends and family for recommendations, then do your research. Start with an online search for a New York City or New York State Metro-North train accident attorney. Look for those who specialize in representing plaintiffs in train accident cases. Find those firms that have a lot of experience and a track record of good results.

Check the online reviews and look to see if the lawyers are members of respected organizations, such as the American Bar Association. Make sure they have trial experience. Hopefully, your case won’t go to trial, but you want someone who has experience in court if such a step becomes necessary.

Schedule an Initial Consultation

In your search, narrow down your list to the top five or so New York Metro-North train accident lawyers or law firms. Then call each one and schedule an initial consultation. Most law firms (including Chaffin Luhana) will provide a free initial meeting where you can ask questions and determine whether a) you have a case and b) you want to move forward with that firm.

During that initial meeting, ask the attorney about their general experience, their history with cases like yours, how they handle fees, and who would be working on your case. Get to know the lawyer and their staff. Find out if the firm has additional resources to help secure expert witnesses and appropriately investigate your case.

Trust Your Gut

After meeting with the New York attorneys on your list, decide which one inspires the most confidence when it comes to resolving your case.

Why Choose Our New York Metro-North Train Accident Lawyers

At Chaffin Luhana, we focus only on plaintiffs like you who have been injured and need help obtaining fair compensation. We have the experience and the resources you need and pride ourselves on providing regular and helpful communication.

Our hard-working team includes former federal and state prosecutors, former state and federal judicial law clerks, former large defense firm attorneys, court-appointed leaders in the national Plaintiffs’ bar, and social workers—a team with unique and in-depth experience to guide you through your case.

As national leaders in the plaintiffs’ bar, we have extensive experience that is nationally recognized. To date, partners Eric Chaffin and Roopal Luhana have been involved in recovering over $1 billion for their clients so far. The firm itself has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for individually injured plaintiffs.

Finally, we believe in giving back to our communities. With a mission of “Doing Good by Doing Right™,” we have donated a substantial portion of the firm’s revenues—hundreds of thousands of dollars to date—to charitable causes and issues that impact our clients and local communities. The Chaffin Luhana Foundation has also funded scientific research, donated to dozens of charities, and given away numerous college scholarships.

What Our Clients Have to Say About Chaffin Luhana

Below is a small sampling of the testimonials we have received from our clients:

Over $4 Million Recovery

“I was very pleased with the representation that I received for my case. I had a positive experience with this firm and I would recommend your firm to my family and friends.”

– Judy R., Product Liability Injury Client

Nearly $3 Million Recovery

“I would tell prospective client[s of your firm] to be patient—trust your lawyers, trust that they know what they are doing, even though it is hard for people not in the business to understand all the legal wording and details.”

– Duane B, Product Liability Injury Client

Automobile Accident Victim

“They treat you like family. I was even sent a sympathy card when my mother passed, which was totally unexpected.”

– Debra S., Personal Injury Client

Automobile Accident Victim

“[Chaffin Luhana] definitely delivered. The previous firm told me they couldn’t help me. My mom saw the commercial, and she said try someone else. I called you and within four months, you had it all resolved.”

– Carley H., Personal Injury Client

Find more testimonials here.

Types of Serious Injuries Sustained in a New York Metro-North Train Accident

Serious injuries that may result from a train accident include the following:

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Concussions
  • Paralysis
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Broken Bones
  • Neck and Back Injuries
  • Knee Injuries
  • Foot and Ankle Injuries
  • Amputations
  • Shoulder Injuries
  • Wrist and Hand Injuries
  • Crush Injuries
  • Internal Injuries and Bleeding
  • Disfiguring Facial Injuries and Scars
  • Limb Loss and Amputations
  • Burn Injuries
  • Whiplash
  • Bruising/Contusions/Sprains/Strains
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Frequently Asked Questions

When should you get a lawyer for a train accident in New York?

A Metro-North train accident attorney can give you a great advantage when you’re pursuing compensation for your injuries. He or she can provide legal advice, thoroughly investigate the accident to determine the cause, negotiate with the insurance companies, calculate damages, and represent you in court if it comes to that. They can also help you secure the maximum amount of compensation possible for your injuries.

Should you decide to move forward with your case, your attorney can help you with all the following:

  • Answering all your questions
  • Obtaining appropriate records, such as the police report
  • Arranging an independent investigation into the case (if necessary)
  • Determining all liable parties and avenues of compensation
  • Handling all communications with the insurance companies and their representatives
  • Negotiating a fair settlement that protects your interest, or taking the case to trial if necessary

What is the average train accident settlement in New York?

How much money you may receive in a New York Metro-North train accident settlement depends on many factors, so it’s difficult to estimate without knowing all the details. These factors include the severity of your injuries, whether they will continue to affect you over time, your job/salary, and whether your injuries affect your ability to work.

Other factors will matter too, such as whether you have credible and compelling witnesses, photographic and/or video evidence supporting your claim, medical records, a police report, expert witness testimony, and more. These can all strengthen your case and make it more likely that you will recover the compensation you need.

How long does it take for a Metro-North train accident lawsuit to settle in New York?

There is no standard timeline for settling a train accident case. Because you will likely be suing the MTA, the process may take a few months to up to a year or more. Having multiple parties involved or difficulties with the insurance companies can extend the timeline.

What is the statute of limitations for a train accident in New York?

In New York, you have three years from the date of the train accident to file a claim for personal injuries. The date begins on the date of the accident.

There are some exceptions to this rule:

  • Municipalities: If your case involves a municipality—as it often does in a Metro-North claim—you have less time. For cases involving the MTA or the City of New York, you have 90 days to file a Notice of Claim.
  • Wrongful death: If you or a loved one died in a train accident, you have only two years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit.
  • Minors: If the injured party is a child, the child has three years after their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit.

Though the statute of limitations may give you time, understand that after an accident, the public transit company is likely to attempt to fix the problem that caused the incident as soon as possible. Evidence may be removed or destroyed quickly, so it’s important to act fast. Your New York attorney can demand that evidence be preserved to protect your legal rights.

What makes train accidents different from other types of accidents?

Train accident claims have unique legal requirements that can be complex. You and your NYC Metro-North train accident lawyer must first file a notice of claim within 90 days, which includes a start-to-finish account of what happened. If you do not provide the right information at this step in the process, your claim will probably be denied.

Once your claim is approved to proceed, you and your lawyer must mount a strong case that will withstand the defendants’ efforts to deny responsibility. That means consulting with experts to establish who was responsible and gathering the evidence necessary to prove your position.

What to do after a serious train accident?

After a train accident, as with any other accident, prioritize your safety and the safety of those around you. Seek medical attention immediately if needed. Then report the incident to the authorities if you can, and document the scene. That means taking pictures if you can and gathering the contact information of other victims and witnesses.

As soon as you can, record what happened to the best of your ability, either by writing it down or speaking a recording. Finally, consult with your New York Metro-North train accident attorney for guidance on your next steps.

What resources are available for train accident survivors and their families?

You may seek assistance from the following entities:

  • National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) (offers support to victims of major rail accidents)
  • New York State Office of Victim Services (provides help to victims of crime)
  • NYC Well (offers free mental health support and resources)
  • The American Red Cross greater New York (provides disaster relief and emergency assistance)

What if I was partly at fault for the accident?

New York is a “pure comparative negligence” state. That means that a victim can recover for any portion of the damages for which they were not at fault.

If you were 50% responsible for the accident, for example, you can still recover 50 percent of your damages. If you were 90 percent responsible, you can still recover 10 percent of your damages.

There may be a dispute over fault in your case. A New York train accident attorney can present your side in the best light to improve your chances of receiving the compensation you need.

What types of damages will a train accident settlement cover?

In general, there are three major types of damages you can pursue in a personal injury case:

  • Compensatory:These are the most common and the most easily identifiable damages. They are paid to “compensate” you for losses like medical expenses, lost wages, and property replacement.
  • General:These cannot be readily tied to a dollar amount. They include pain and suffering, a shortened life expectancy, and mental anguish.
  • Punitive:These are awarded for the sole purpose of punishing the defendant for their conduct.

Settlements consist of economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include:

  • Medical expenses: You can expect to be compensated for any medical expenses for which you have proof. If you have to have more surgeries, treatments, therapies, and prescriptions in the future, the insurance company or court may offer compensation for these as well.
  • Lost wages: If you missed work because of your injuries, you may be compensated for lost wages. If you can’t return to your job in the future, your future lost wages may also be recoverable.
  • Potential earnings: Similar to lost wages, this is a figure representing what you would have earned had not the accident taken place.
  • Property damage: These damages would help pay to restore or replace your vehicle. If you had other property that was damaged, such as a computer or cell phone, those costs may also be figured into this award.
  • Out-of-pocket expenses relating to the accident: If you have to travel to your medical appointments, you may be able to be reimbursed for mileage, parking fees, rental car fees, and the like. Childcare, cleaning help, personal assistance, and other household services may also be recoverable if you can prove that you were unable to perform these activities while recovering.

Non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering: This refers to any physical pain and discomfort that you suffered during and after the accident. It may include emotional or psychological suffering as well, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Loss of consortium: This is a legal term used to describe the loss of a partner or spouse’s physical companionship, including a sexual relationship. If you or a passenger in your vehicle was injured in such a way that it affects your relationship, you could be eligible for these damages.
  • Loss of enjoyment: If you find that your injuries make it more difficult to enjoy the activities you once enjoyed, or if you can no longer take part in your day-to-day activities, you may be entitled to compensation for these losses.

Your Trusted Metro-North Train Accident Lawyer in New York

The train accident attorneys at Chaffin Luhana serve the New York City and New York State area. We are passionate advocates for plaintiffs who have suffered injuries in train accidents and stand ready to help you pursue compensation to the fullest extent allowed under New York law.

Call us today at 888-480-1123.