The New York Personal Injury Blog

Viral Video Gets NYC MTA To Repair Subway Stairs in 24 Hours

What's the quickest way to get the MTA to repair a safety hazard at a subway station? We wish it was as simple as hiring a lawyer, but one amateur filmmaker has shown that the viral video might be even quicker, reports NBC New York.

Drew Peterson noticed something odd about the stairs at his regular stop. For some reason, nearly everyone was tripping on the way out of the 36th Street Station. He first noticed it when both he and his girlfriend regularly tripped. So, he set up a camera to document other pedestrians tripping as well. Person after person, including a man carrying a baby, caught their foot on the step.

So what was wrong with the stairs? Apparently, one of the steps is about a half of an inch taller than the rest.

The rest is internet legend. Peterson posted his catchy viral video on the hosting site Vimeo on Wednesday morning, then shared it on the social internet bulletin-board Reddit. Immediately, comments regarding "class-action lawsuit" and "lawsuit waiting to happen" starting flooding in.

New York City Subway Stairs from Dean Peterson on Vimeo.

Though the MTA and the city government are not known for their expeditiousness, this time they responded quickly. Perhaps it was the fear of a lawsuit, or perhaps they saw an opportunity to show the riders that they do, in fact, care about safety.

Within 24 hours of the video being posted, the stairs were closed off for repairs.

In an email to NBC New York, an MTA official said that the entire flight of stairs would have to be replaced. The repair cannot be limited to only one step.

Had someone actually been injured, they would have found out that suing state agencies is always a tricky business. It's not as simple as filing a lawsuit in regular court, as one would do if they, for example, slipped and fell at a Waffle House.

Instead, depending on the agency, the suit might have to be filed in the New York State Court of Claims (which shortens the time period for bringing the suit to only 90 days). Examples of agencies with this restriction include the City University of New York and the Power Authority of the State of New York.

Also, the issue of sovereign immunity often rears its ugly head. State and federal governments are immune from most lawsuits. However, in their wisdom, many have waived that immunity and allowed themselves to be sued for such things as broken stairs or overly-abusive cops.

A quick survey of personal injury lawsuits against the MTA seems to indicate that the cases should be filed in the ordinary manner - via the Supreme Court. However, due to the arcane bureaucratic rules of the State of New York, you should probably discuss any possible case with an experienced local lawyer to ensure that you meet any applicable time limits.

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