Getting a Recovery from New York City Subway and Bus Accidents; NYCTA’s Study of Its Lawsuit Payouts is Misleading


New York City Transit Authority, operator of the City’s subways and buses, has published a study that it has paid-out almost $1 billion for personal injury cases over the last two decades.

NYCTA says that it has paid-out so much because it claims that it is an “easy mark” for plaintiffs.

We have an answer:  baloney.

Under the law a plaintiff suing NYCTA has no special rights and privileges that he would have if he were suing John Doe, ABC Corporation, or any other defendant.  As a common carrier, NYCTA has a duty of reasonable care towards its passengers.  This is burden is the same one imposed upon private common carriers.   There is no special burden placed NYCTA. 

There used to be a rule that a common carrier owed a higher duty of care to the public.  The last remnant of the concept was eliminated by the Court of Appeals about 10 years ago.  As the law stands now, there is no special or higher duty imposed on common carriers. 

Indeed, the NYCTA has the rights and defenses afforded to municipal corporations which are not allowed to private defendants. such as

  • a requirement that plaintiff file a notice of claim within 90 days of the occurrence;
  • a short statute of limitations of 1 year and 90 days;  private defendants have a 3 years statute of limitations;
  • the right of have the case venued in the county where the accident occurred;  where there is a private defendant, the case can be venued where the parties reside; and
  • a right to appeal without the necessity of filing an appeal bond.

Therefore, NYCTA’s “easy mark” claim is bogus.

In essence, NYCTA seeks special protections which are not available to other defendants.

We question the NYCTA’s numbers and findings.  We shall seek a copy of the report for discussion in future posts.

If you have been injured in a bus or train accident, please call us for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or write to us at

Mark E. Seitelman, 5/26/09,


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