The NYC Subway System Can Be Dangerous to Riders

New York City Subway At night
The New York City Subway system is one of the oldest underground systems in the world. Originally conceived in 1869, the idea for an underground mass transit system in New York City wasn’t approved for construction until 25 years later in 1894. At the time, there were catastrophic blizzards in the recent winters that would halt the city for days on end when the above ground transit could not operate. The construction was taken on by a few private firms and the first fully functioning underground line was opened in October of 1904. In the 1910’s, two major private companies known as the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation and the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (The BMT and IRT respectively) came out as the two final private players. The city began its own underground system named the Independent Subway System or IND. At that time, there were a few underground connections between the three systems, but you would have to pay to transfer from one to the other.

In 1940, the New York City government bought out the two private companies. There were many more underground connections built between the systems and finally in 1953, The NYC Transit Authority was created to take over all subway, bus and other public transit under one municipality. This was great for riders because there was now only one fare for the whole system and connections were easier. It is also why you may have to walk down very long underground corridors from one line to the other. You are actually walking from one system to the other. Sometimes you can even see old tile mosaics of “BMT”, “IRT” or “IND” with arrows on the walls of older subway stations around New York City. These are the relics of the once separate systems.

Did you ever see steam billowing out of a sewer or from the streets of NYC? Those are the remnants of the old pneumatic steam system that ran the old subway lines and streetcars before electricity was more widely available. There is a vast network of underground steam tunnels in New York City.  The steam system is still used by Con Ed today to provide heat and run electrical generators in older buildings like the Empire State Building. But because it is so old, there are many points where the pipes fail and if it is not vented there would be an explosion. So, the steam is vented where necessary and therefore, you see steam escape from the streets all over the city.

This is also a reason why the subway system is falling apart in places. The three different systems were built by the city over 100 years ago and are still in use.  They were built to different specifications based on the requirements of each private system, and though there have been countless upgrades and new lines dug and brought on line, much of the old system remains. The old steam system that exists and is still in use causes damage and corrosion. During heavy rain, you may also find yourself in a subway station and see torrents of water falling from the ceiling and raining down on the platform. This is just one of the problems of the old system that can cause a serious hazard to riders.

An example of this hazard happened to a 35-year-old woman in Manhattan a few years ago. While transferring through a long corridor under the west side of Manhattan at 14th street with a crowd of other riders, a train entered the station ahead and everyone began to rush to make the train. A flood of water had been raining down onto the indoor stairs through a defect in the ceiling and the stairs were slick with soiled water from the runoff on the street above. The woman slipped on the stairs and suffered a catastrophic injury to her neck and back and had to be hospitalized. She was forced out of work by her injuries and had to undergo multiple surgeries.

She had no health insurance and was facing bankruptcy due to her large medical bills. The city offered her a small settlement for her injuries but it was not nearly enough to cover all of her bills and the fact that given her injuries, she could no longer work. She had to retain an experienced personal injury attorney to help her with her claim against the city or she would be ruined.

She went to the personal injury attorneys at Ross and Hill in Downtown Brooklyn to fight the city on her behalf and they were able to earn her the compensation she needed to be financially stable while she physically recovered. Through an extensive investigation, the attorneys found that the defect in the ceiling had been known and scheduled for repair, but the repairs had never been done. It was because of their diligence in uncovering the history of negligence that they were able to settle with the city for a sum that the woman needed to move on with her life. Without the professionalism and experience of the premises liability lawyers at Ross and Hill, this hard-working person would have become destitute through no fault of her own.

The NYC subway system is one of the largest subway systems in the world and it is vital to the lives of millions of New Yorkers and commuters every day. While it is a marvel of convenience and speed, it is not without its faults and it can be a danger to its riders. If you have been injured on the subway or anywhere else in the city, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and this compensation may be vital to get you back on your feet.

Contact the law offices of Ross and Hill at their Brooklyn or Manhattan offices for a free consultation.

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