One woman died and more than 80 people were sent to the hospital after a Washington DC Metro station and train filled with foul-smelling smoke. Most of the injuries were caused by smoke inhalation. The incident occurred near the L’Enfant Plaza station, a busy subway station in downtown Washington. The train had just left the station. Then it stopped.
Passengers in the train were told to stay put as its cars filled with smoke. Some people waited anxiously for rescuers as instructed, while others opened the doors, left the cars on their own and made their way through the dark tunnel back to the platform. Firefighters arrived 40 minutes later and evacuated passengers through the Metro tunnel.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was leading the investigation. An NTSA investigator said the smoke started when something came into contact with the high-voltage third rail and caused an electrical arc, reported Newsday (1.13.14.) There was no fire.
The woman was the first person to die on Washington’s Metro system since a 2009 crash killed eight passengers plus a train operator.
In December, a fire in a manhole in the lower part of Manhattan caused problems for the New York City subway system, reported the New York Daily News (12.11.14).
Equipment malfunction, conductor error, and negligence can all lead to serious subway accidents that can injure both passengers and workers. While no form of transportation has a perfect safety record, the operators of vehicles, including subways and trains, are obligated by law to keep their passengers reasonably safe. Operators of vehicles who are found to be negligent can be held liable for injuries. This includes operators such as the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in New York, which is responsible for the subway cars and the stations it maintains.
After a subway accident in New York, it is important for victims to act quickly. Those who have been injured in a subway accident have only have 90 days from the date of the accident to file a Notice of Claim against the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) or the claim will be denied. This is the same for anyone who has been injured in an accident involving a New York bus or train.
A Notice of Claim is a legal document that explains the claim. Typically, it must be prepared by a lawyer and served on the municipality within 90 days of injury. A person’s rights must be protected after a subway accident. An experienced lawyer can help investigate a case to determine responsibility. Individuals who have been injured at a subway station or in a subway accident may be entitled to compensation that covers medical care, as well as compensatory damages for loss of earnings and more.