Most New York subway accident cases settle before going to trial. This happens for a number of reasons. First, trials are expensive. Law firms pay doctors and experts large sums of money to testify at trial. This cost typically comes out of the plaintiff’s award. Taking a doctor or expert away from their practice has cost. A such, doctors and experts charge large amounts of money to appear in court for testimony. In a New York subway accident case, lawyers will often need to retain expert engineers to build the case. Having these types of experts testify can be particularly costly.
Second, trials for New York subway accident cases can be time-consuming. The injured plaintiff must wait for a verdict and for appeals to resolve. This can take years. In contrast, settling a case before trial can get an injured plaintiff compensation years before even seeing the inside of a courtroom. And thirdly, trials are unpredictable. When you put your case in front of a jury, you can never quite be sure what they will decide. Finally, even if a jury awards a sizable verdict at trial, the plaintiff may not immediately benefit from it. The plaintiff will have to wait for all appeals to resolve. The court also may modify the verdict on appeal. Defendants will have a right to appeal every jury verdict.
Verdicts for New York Subway Accident Cases After Appeal
In one case, a 72 year old woman was exiting the 7 train at the Times Square station. The subway doors closed on her. As a result, the doors knocked the woman to the ground and she sustained serious injuries. A doctor diagnosed the woman with a non-displaced hip fracture. As a result of her injury, the woman required open reduction internal fixation surgery with screws and a steel rod placed into the hip. Following surgery, she spent a week in the hospital.
She then underwent two weeks of in-patient rehabilitation and a few months of out-patient and home physical therapy. The woman commenced a lawsuit due to the subway accident. At trial, she testified that the doors suddenly closed on her while the train conductor was making announcements. No witnesses contradicted her testimony. The woman also testified that because of her injury, she could no longer travel into Manhattan to visit museums or attend cultural events and lectures. The defendant train conductor testified that a conductor is supposed to finish all announcements and then close the subway doors some safe time later.
The jury awarded the plaintiff $850,000 for the New York subway accident. Of that amount, the jury awarded $400,000 for past pain and suffering and $450,000 for future pain and suffering. The defendants appealed the verdict. The Appellate Division upheld the jury’s verdict. The Court found that the verdict did not deviate from what would be considered reasonable compensation under the circumstances.
The Risk of Verdict Reduction
In another New York subway accident case, a plaintiff was injured while working as a lead and asbestos inspector during rehabilitation of a subway station. While performing his work, the plaintiff fell through wood planks and injured his lower back and left leg. At trial, evidence was presented that the plaintiff had a prior lower back and left leg injury, but that this accident aggravated his pre-existing injuries and caused new injuries. The plaintiff underwent a discectomy and fusion surgery. He also underwent a discogram, IDET procedure, and multiple epidural injections.
At trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff a total of $4,011,000 — $1,200,000 for past pain and suffering and $2,000,000 for future pain and suffering over 15 years, $312,000 for past lost earnings, $225,000 for future lost earnings over 4 ½ years, $159,000 for past medical expenses and $115,000 for future medical expenses over 15 years.
Defendants appealed the verdict. The Appellate Division affirmed the awards of $1,200,000 for past pain and suffering, $312,000 for past lost earnings, $225,000 for future lost earnings over 4 ½ years, and $159,000 for past medical expenses. The Appellate Division also reduced the award for future pain and suffering to $1,200,000 and the award for future medical expenses to $70,000. Thus, the Court reduced the total award to $3,166,000 for the New York subway accident.