A Manhattan jury awarded a 25-year-old man $3,594,943 for serious injuries he received when he was struck by a New York subway train. The verdict came on February 9 and was announced on Tuesday.
The case raises interesting issues of negligence and liability because of the man’s intoxicated state at the time of the incident and the train operator’s failure to take the mandatory course of action in the circumstance. The incident occurred just before 2 a.m. at the 14th and Union Square subway station when the victim fell onto the subway tracks. He could not clear the tracks before the fast moving subway train approached and severed the man’s lower right leg.
During the trial, jurors heard that the man had been drinking with friends before the incident. The man recalled arriving at the subway station but he could not remember how he ended up on the subway tracks or the accident itself.
Following the accident, emergency personnel took the man to the hospital, where blood tests were taken, indicating a blood alcohol level of .18%. A 160-pound man must consume about 12 12-oz. beers or 10 stronger drinks in a 6-hour period to attain a blood alcohol level of .18%.
The New York City Transit Authority claimed that the man was solely responsible for the accident because he put himself on the tracks and the subway operator did not have enough time to stop his train.
The plaintiff’s attorney successfully argued that the train operator saw a “mass” on the tracks about 180 feet ahead but failed to stop the train immediately, as he is required to do by law.
“A subway train operator is obligated to stop a subway train before it strikes a large object on the tracks, even if it is not known that the object is actually an intoxicated person. The jury held the Transit Authority liable for not stopping the train when the operator had sufficient time to do so,” said the victim’s attorney.
The jury apportioned 35% fault to the victim, therefore holding the Transit Authority mostly responsible. The $3.5 million award compensates the man for his medical expenses and ongoing pain and suffering.