A deadly subway accident in New York City claimed the life of Subway Maintenance Supervisor James Knell. Knell was fatally electrocuted in April of 2010 after he slipped and fell onto the third rail of a subway line in the Rockways. Knell, 45, had been working the tracks for the past 13 years and was an experienced veteran.
Knell and a team of fellow workers were repairing tracks in the area and getting ready for service to resume that morning when the fatal accident occurred. The Office of System Safety, under the supervision of MTA NYC Transit president Thomas Pendergrast, immediately launched an investigation into the subway accident. It was speculated that heavy rains may have made the tracks slippery and unsafe to work on.
A separate OSHA investigation of the accident led to two separate citations filed against the MTA including violations of the General Duty Clause of the United States Occupational Safety and Health Act. Necessary protective covering on 1,175 feet of the electrified third rail was either missing or had never been installed when the power was restored to that section of track. Additionally, the power should have remained off until Knell and all other workers had cleared the area and reported their job complete.
Knell’s widow sued New York City on behalf of herself and Knell’s surviving stepchildren. During the ensuing investigation and trial, Judge Kerrigan ruled that NYC had failed to protect Knell from the “third rail” which carried 600 volts of electricity. The case went to a jury which awarded $4 million dollars to Knell’s widow and the family.
This case illustrates just how dangerous working on New York’s subway lines can be. Electrocutions and falls can result in serious debilitating injuries and even death. Many times these NYC subway accidents are avoidable. Perhaps, with the proper supervision, safety equipment, and safety precautions, many of these accidents could have been prevented.
If you or a loved one has been involved in such an accident-whether employed by MTA or as a rider of the underground-contact a New York City subway accident attorney today. Call the Law Offices of Nussin S. Fogel for a free consultation at (800) 734-9338 or (212) 385-1122 to learn your rights.