New York Subway Accident Lawyer

On January 4, 2024, a subway collision caused two trains to derail in Manhattan. The accident happened around 3:00 p.m. local time near 96th Street and Broadway on the Upper West Side. According to the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), 24 people suffered from non-life-threatening injuries. One of the trains had 300 passengers on board at the time of the crash.

Though the New York Subway is usually safe, this was a stunning incident and one that caused great concern. At the time of the accident, the trains were moving at a slow speed, which was likely why there were no fatalities. One of the trains was out of service and had been vandalized.

The next day, on January 5, 2024, Chairperson Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) stated that federal transit safety investigators would be reviewing all the city’s subway operations in response to the collision and derailment.

This incident was the second serious subway episode in Manhattan in just over a month. On November 29, 2024, a subway worker for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was dragged under a train and killed while working as a rail safety flagger.

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

The New York City Subway System

Over half of the population of New York City uses the public transportation system, which includes the New York Subway system. In 2019, an average of 5.5 million people rode the subway.

That number declined during the COVID-19 pandemic when New Yorkers were instructed to stay home as much as possible, but it’s rising again. In 2023, it was about 70 percent of what it was before the pandemic.

The New York City Subway is the busiest rapid transit system in the Western Hemisphere, carrying about 1.7 million riders in 2022. The fleet of over 6,300 subway cars travels almost 345 million miles a year along 660 miles of track, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It serves Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, while the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) Staten Island Railway (SIR) serves Staten Island.

People who ride the New York City Subway expect to be safe while they’re on the train. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Recently, there have been several incidents that have resulted in injuries and fatalities.

New York City Subway Accidents and Fatalities

According to a 2009 study, subway transit is a “relatively safe mode of transportation,” but compared to all other forms of mass transit in the U.S., “subways have the highest fatality rate.”

For that study, researchers analyzed medical examiner records for all New York City (NYC) subway-related deaths that occurred between 1990 and 2003. They found a total of 668 subway-related fatalities. Of these, 10 (1.5 percent) were homicides, 343 (51.3 percent) were suicides, and 315 (47.2 percent) were accidental.

A later study examined subway train-related fatalities in New York City between January 1, 2003, and May 31, 2007. During that period, there were 211 subway train-related fatalities:

  • 111 suicides
  • 76 accidents
  • 20 undetermined
  • 4 homicides

The causes of death included blunt trauma and electrocution. Torso transection and extremity amputation were more frequent in suicides.

Pedestrian Incidents on the New York City Subway

Authorities are working to understand and help prevent subway train-to-human collisions. These have increased dramatically over the past couple of years, partly because of social-media dares. In 2022, deaths on subway tracks soared to 88. That was 35 percent above the 2018 and 2019 averages—65 per year.

There were a total of 1,364 incidents of track trespassing in 2022, according to the MTA, about 15 percent were accidental falls and medical emergencies, fewer than 10 percent were suicides or suicide attempts, and a smaller percentage were the result of assaults (people being pushed to the tracks). In over two-thirds of the cases, people ended up on the tracks voluntarily.

In 20 percent of the cases, people were mentally ill, but not attempting suicide. In another about 10 percent, people were drugged or drunk. And in nearly half of the total trespassing cases, people walking the tracks were headed to homeless encampments on MTA property, writing graffiti, or just wandering about.

Some accidents came about because of “subway surfing,” a dangerous social media trend that encourages people to stand on top of a train while it’s traveling.

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 City Subway

Crime on the subways is another rising problem. ABC News recently reported that major crime in the NYC subway was up in January 2024 by almost 50 percent compared to January 2023.

According to the NYPD, there were 570 reports of felony assault on trains or in stations in 2023, which was the highest number in more than 20 years and a 53 percent jump from pre-pandemic levels. For comparison, in 2019, there were 373 felony assaults reported.

On February 23, 2024, ABC News reported that a 45-year-old man was killed in a NYC subway car early that morning. The NYPD said the victim’s fatal wound appeared to be from a gunshot or a sharp object.

They found the man unconscious, and he was later pronounced dead at the nearby St. Barnabas Hospital. At the time of the report, authorities were searching for two men and one woman who fled the train after the incident. The investigation was ongoing at the time of this writing.

Earlier that month, a 35-year-old man was killed and five others wounded during a shooting at a different subway station in the Bronx.

What Causes New York Subway Incidents?

There are many reasons why a subway accident may occur. The following are some of the most common.

Lack of Maintenance

Subway lines must be consistently maintained to operate correctly. If transit companies miss repair deadlines, that can cause functional errors and increase the risk of injuries to passengers. Poor maintenance occurs when companies or transit authorities fail to check all components and areas, or when they use incorrect or low-quality parts to replace faulty ones.

The subway system has many moving parts and is used by millions of people. Weather exposure 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. The transit authority 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 in a subway system. Broken tracks are the most common cause of this type of incident.

A derailment is highly dangerous because once the wheels leave the track, the train is likely to crash into the surrounding tunnel walls. This can cause extensive destruction and severe injuries and fatalities.

Debris on the Track

Subway tracks are prone to debris accumulation. The MTA and other subway entities have 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

Lone passengers, older passengers, and others who are vulnerable can find the New York City Subway to be very dangerous in some areas, particularly during the overnight hours. Assaults, rapes, and even murders have increased over the past several years.

Inadequate security may allow criminals to enter the subway with deadly weapons. The transit authority is responsible for putting up measures like security guards and detection systems to prevent criminals from harming passengers.

Operational Mistakes

Sometimes, the subway operator makes mistakes. He or she may be distracted, inexperienced, or even drunk or high. In 1991, a New York Subway operator was charged with five counts of manslaughter after his train derailed, killing five people and causing more than 175 injuries.

The operator was found to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.21 percent when he was tested 13 hours after the crash. The New York state standard for vehicular drunken driving is 0.10 percent. He also had cocaine in an empty vial found in the cab.

Computer Failures

Most subway 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

In subways, it’s not only the train cars, tracks, and systems that need to be properly maintained. The stations, as well, 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.

High Speeds

Subway operators are tasked with getting the trains where they need to be on time. They may feel pressured to account for lost time if they are behind schedule. This can cause them to push the trains faster than they should, increasing 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

In October 2022, NBC News reported that a NYC Subway rider “racing to catch a Manhattan train during Monday’s evening rush got his clothes caught in the door and ended up dragged to his death…”

The victim was holding the door open when his clothing somehow became trapped. The train started moving and he couldn’t get free. He was hit by a train going the other way and died of his injuries.

At the time of the incident, it was unclear why the doors didn’t stay open when he got caught.

Stopping Suddenly

The January 2024 train collision mentioned at the beginning of this article occurred partially because a prankster pulled the emergency brake for no reason. All New York City subway cars are equipped with emergency brakes, which means most riders can stop a train as long as they can reach the dangling cord or handle.

Emergency brake vandalism has been increasing over the past five years, according to the New York Times. For every time the brakes are used in a real emergency, there are more than 50 instances where they are pulled for no reason. This not only causes unnecessary delays but can also cause the train to stop suddenly, which may injure some passengers.

The brakes are necessary as they can be pulled should a passenger collapse or if a rider gets caught in a subway door. But critics say the MTA is operating with antiquated technology and that emergency brakes shouldn’t be so easily accessible to pranksters.


The New York City subways are primarily electric. They rely on electric traction to power the trains. Most subway lines use a third rail system for electric power.

According to a study published in the journal, Burns, railway and subway-associated electrical trauma is rare, but when it happens, it typically involves high-voltage injuries.

Subway employees are often at the highest risk. In the study, among seven subway workers, the mechanism of rail contact that caused the electrocution was unintentional. The worker may have accidentally hit the rail with a tool, touched their hand to it, or fallen.

On February 26, 2024, NBC News reported that a man died after falling onto Philadelphia’s SEPTA subway tracks and coming into contact with the electrified third rail. He was killed instantly.

Negligent Security

The public transit system 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. Subways should also undergo regular security audits and evaluations to identify any weaknesses or gaps in security.

When to Hire a New York Subway Accident Lawyer

If you were injured while on the New York subway, you owe it to yourself to seek legal assistance.

You have the right to sue the MTA, the Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority, or the City of New York if you believe they were negligent in your accident, but as these are all government entities, you have to do so quickly—within 90 days.

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 subway 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 subway 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, a NYC subway accident 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 Subway Accident Lawyer

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

Do Your Research

Begin by asking friends and family for recommendations, but then do your research. Start with an online search for a New York City or New York state subway accident attorney. Look for those attorneys that specialize in representing plaintiffs in subway and personal injury 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 subway 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 Subway 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 Subway Accident

Serious injuries that may result from a subway 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 subway accident in New York?

If you or a loved one were seriously hurt in a subway accident, you owe it to yourself to schedule a complimentary consultation with a reputable New York City subway attorney. They can examine the facts of your case and let you know if it would be worth it to you to file a claim.

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 subway accident settlement in New York?

How much money you may receive in a New York subway 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 subway accident lawsuit to settle in New York?

Every case is different, so there is no standard timeline for settling a subway accident case. Because suing a government entity can be complicated, the process may take a few months 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 subway accident in New York?

In New York, the statute of limitations for a personal injury action—such as one involving a subway accident—is three years. 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 subway 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 subway 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.

Understand that after a subway accident, the public transit company is likely to attempt to fix the problem that caused the accident as soon as possible. Evidence may be removed or destroyed quickly, so it’s important to act fast. Your NYC attorney can demand that evidence be preserved to protect your legal rights.

What Makes Subway Accidents Different from Other Traffic Accidents?

Subway accident claims have unique legal requirements. You and your NYC subway 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 subway accident?

The actions you take immediately after a subway accident can have a large impact on your claim if you decide to file one later. Thus, it’s best to follow these recommendations:


Check yourself and your passengers for injuries. Call 911 if needed. Later, be sure to have yourself checked out by a doctor, even if you feel fine. It will be good to have a record of this visit if you need it.

Law Enforcement

Call the police. They can help with any injured parties and will create an official report of the accident, which you will need later if you decide to file a subway accident lawsuit.

Gather Information and Evidence

As soon as possible, write down the circumstances of the incident. Include the closest stairway or platform and contact information for eyewitnesses. Take photos if you’re able. Include pictures of the area where the incident took place as well as of injuries you suffered.

Don’t Post on Social Media

Anything you post on social media can be used to reduce or deny your compensation. Other liable parties may also try to use it to prove you were at fault or that your injuries are not as bad as you claim.

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 subway 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 subway accident settlement cover?

In general, there are three major types of damages:

  • 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 Subway Accident Lawyer in New York

The subway 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 subway 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.