If you’ve ever walked down a sidewalk in New York City, you’re likely already familiar with the topography, and how hazardous it can sometimes be. Café signs, fire hydrants, discarded flyers; these are just some of the obstacles you’re likely to encounter as you seek out your urban destination. (And the menace of these obstacles are compounded, it seems, by the pace and forcefulness with which Manhattanites seem to walk; if you’ve ever found yourself on a Midtown sidewalk during rush hours, you already know that it’s sink or swim.) Perhaps most frightening of all, though, are subway grates. The bane of high-heel wearers, these ubiquitous and oftentimes wobbly metal lattices strike fear in the hearts of the unaccustomed. (Though they’re habitually used as shortcuts for the more seasoned New York initiated.) While these grates are, on the majority, safe to tread over, accidents have been known to happen. (Confirming the worst fears of some.) Below, we’ll take a look at two accidents, both involving sidewalk shafts. Then, we’ll discuss what you should do if you have been injured by a grate or involved in a similar accident.
Man Attempting to Retrieve Keys Falls Through Grate
A man fell down into a subway shaft in Queens this summer, though the scene didn’t transpire exactly how you might expect. The shaft in question was located near Court Square, in the shadow of the G train. At around 11 on a June morning, a young pedestrian dropped his keys as he passed over the shaft, which slipped through the space between bars on the protective metal grate.
What happened next might surprise you.
The man tried fishing for his keys with a makeshift fishing rod, which he made by fastening a hook to a piece of string. After some time, the man got flustered. An onlooker offered to go fetch a magnet, but by the time he arrived back on the scene, the man had already pried the metal grate out of its socket, found a ladder, and was on his way down to retrieve the keys. That’s when disaster struck. Halfway down the ladder, the man lost his footing, then slipped off the ladder, and fell down the shaft.
He injured his head, and broke his leg at the thigh. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital by emergency personnel. His condition was described as “serious, but stable.”
This scenario isn’t representative of the danger of subway grates. So long as you don’t tamper with them in dangerous ways, it’s unlikely you’ll suffer the same fate as this young man.
MTA Worker Falls Subway Shaft in Brooklyn
More recently, an MTA worker fell somewhere between 20 and 30 feet down a transformer shaft, in a terrifying incident that sent firefighters scrambling to the scene. The MTA worker was attempting to drop crucial power cables down a shaft in Bedford-Stuyvesant, when his suspension cord, which was holding him in place above the open grate, snapped. Due to the fact that the man fell head first into the chasm, the injuries he sustained were severe. A co-worker on the scene noted that his face, mouth, and head were all pretty badly “bruised up.” Co-workers, bravely, went on to state that it was “all part of the job.”
Rescue workers were able to extricate the MTA employee “via high-angle rescue,” an unorthodox technique used in extreme situations, like these. The man was rushed to nearby King’s Hospital, where he was listed as in serious condition.
Plummeting down an open shaft might be an occupational hazard for MTA electricians, but the more casual civilian should take comfort in the fact that both of these events involved abnormal circumstances.
Simply put, you shouldn’t fear walking across subway grates, so long as they are firmly secured.
Kaplan Lawyers PC
In your daily travels, you will traverse both publicly and privately owned space, most times, without you actively knowing the difference. The standards which government entities are held to, concerning their obligation to upkeep and maintain sidewalks and other public places, vary. Most governments invoke “sovereign immunity” when trying to limit the extent to which they’re liable for injuries that take place on private property. On private property, however, pedestrians are afforded more protection, and are entitled to higher standards of care. If all of this seems confusing, we understand. You are not alone. Every day, thousands of pedestrians are injured due to defects in sidewalks, roadways, handrails, and staircases. Cases of these kinds are complex. Figuring out what to do next, when you’ve been injured, is sometimes the hardest step to take. At Kaplan Lawyers PC, we can help you get started. Our compassionate and experienced attorneys are well-versed in the intricacies of all types of personal injury law. From start to finish, we will guide you through your legal process. Our consultations are free and easy, so contact us today.