The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) operates subway, train, and bus services in New York City. With millions of daily MTA riders and thousands of buses and trains in its fleet, some accidents are bound to happen. But when an accident is caused by MTA’s negligence, it may be possible to file an injury lawsuit against the agency.

MTA lawsuits and other legal claims involving a government agency can be more complicated than other personal injury lawsuits and may require attorney assistance.

About the MTA

MTA is technically an independent public benefit corporation run by a board of directors—not a state agency—although it falls under state control.

The largest transportation agency in North America, MTA consists of several distinct operating agencies, including New York City Transit, which oversees NYC subway and bus services, Metro-North Railroad, and Long Island Rail Road.

MTA ridership plunged precipitously due to the COVID-19 pandemic and remains down. In 2021, the agency reported approximately 2.4 million daily subway riders and 1.2 million daily bus riders. These passengers are transported on the system’s 6,400 subway cars, 470 subway stations, 665 miles of track, 5,780 buses, and 327 bus routes. MTA employs more than 70,000 people to keep its massive operation running.

MTA Spends Millions Per Year on Injury Lawsuits

According to a report from the NYC Comptroller, the City spent $1.5 billion to resolve 12,188 legal claims in FY 2022, the highest amount in the City’s history. Over the last 10 years, the City has paid on average $1 billion per year to settle all claim types.

Personal injury claims, including motor vehicle accident claims, are the most frequently filed and costliest claims for the City. From FY 2012 to FY 2021, NYC paid $654 million to settle cases in which a City employee hit someone—or something—with a government vehicle.

However, these figures exclude MTA’s bus fleet. An investigation by WNBC found that MTA spent $426 million in 2021 on legal claims, an increase of 175% over the last decade. And the New York Daily News reports that the City spent $431 million over five years to settle injury lawsuits stemming from MTA train and bus accidents.

Compared to some other NYC government agencies, MTA is less transparent. The settlements and verdicts it reaches with injured passengers are largely kept private. To obtain its injury claim data, the Daily News had to file a Freedom of Information Act request.

Public data indicates that, in 2022, the customer injury rate for NYC buses was 2.43 per million customers, and the injury rate for NYC subways was 3.27 per million customers. For LIRR and Metro-North Railroad, these figures were 2.62 and 2.11, respectively.

In 2022, NYC subway deaths soared 35% to 88, reports the New York Post. These deadly incidents included both accidental injuries and suicides. New York’s subway crime, including assaults such as passengers being shoved onto the tracks, rose by 30% as well from 2021 to 2022. There has also been an uptick in MTA bus crashes since 2019 amid a post-pandemic new driver hiring spree.

Major crimes and traffic accidents are both up sharply in NYC in recent years.

Incidents That Could Give Rise to an MTA Injury Lawsuit

In October 2022, a man rushing to catch a subway during rush hour was caught up in the door and dragged to his death. The man’s parents accused MTA of negligence and are suing the agency for $50 million. They said in a notice of claim filed with the City that the subway operator, “should have never set the train car in motion with the Claimant being stuck between the doors of the train car.”

Driver or conductor error is a type of negligence by an MTA employee that could lead to a government lawsuit. MTA has also been accused of negligence in cases where people were shoved onto subway tracks. The agency failed to keep the platform “in a safe condition” and the operator was negligent in controlling the train, claimed one such subway push case.

Other examples of MTA negligence include:

  • Equipment defects and failure
  • Hazardous or dangerous conditions in stations and other areas
  • Lack of adequate security measures
  • Lack of construction safety
  • Lack of driver training and qualifications
  • Poor maintenance of tracks, trains, and equipment
  • Signal failure

MTA may not be the only potentially liable party in a government entity lawsuit. When an agency is sued, it could turn around and blame an accident on a private entity, such as a construction company or private property owner.

Claims Process for MTA Lawsuits

Suing a NYC government agency like the MTA presents more challenges compared to suing an individual or company. The following steps are required to bring an MTA lawsuit:

  • File a notice of claim within 90 days of the date the incident occurred.
  • The notice of claim is served on the NYCTA, MTA, or MTA Bus Company (MTABC).
  • The City investigates the claim and determines if one of its agencies may be legally liable for the injury.
  • The City may try to settle the claim.
  • Claimants have 30 days to accept or reject a settlement offer.
  • Claimants may also bring claims for MTA accidents in court.
  • Before filing an MTA lawsuit in court, the claimant must wait 30 days after filing a notice of claim and attend a hearing.
  • Following the hearing, the claimant has 1 year and 90 days from the date of the incident to file an MTA lawsuit.

When filing a personal injury claim related to a NYC bus or subway accident, it is recommended to hire a lawyer with experience handling MTA lawsuits. In fact, the MTA Personal Injury Claim Form has a section dedicated to attorneys filing claims on behalf of clients. NYC Transit employs a team of around 50 attorneys to fight cases. Claimants who do not have their own attorney will be at a significant disadvantage.

The Sanders Firm Has a Successful Track Record of Suing NYC

We have a proven track record of winning injury cases against the City of New York, including a multi-million dollar verdict for a man hit by a police car and a million dollar award for a woman struck by a bus.

If you were injured in a NYC transit accident, strict filing deadlines demand immediate action. There may also be additional government agencies and private parties that bear blame for an accident. To talk to a lawyer about your case, free of charge, call 855-SANDERS or Contact Us.