Carl Berkowitz, Ph.D., P.E., Transportation Safety Consultant
Case Synopsis: A 47-year-old woman slipped on the icy platform of the train station while boarding a New York City-bound train, causing her to fall into the horizontal gap between the passenger railcar and the platform. She suffered serious injuries.
Expert Analysis: While the plaintiff’s right foot was already on the train, her left foot slipped due to an icy condition on the platform. It was argued that if the railroad car had been at the same level as the platform and if the gap had been four inches wide, her foot would have merely slid into the car, and it would have been extremely unlikely she would have been injured. Survey information indicated that the railcar was four to five inches higher than the platform, and the horizontal gap between the platform and the railcar was 12 inches. Plaintiff’s engineering expert analysis pointed out there was no operational justification for the horizontal and vertical gaps, and that these gaps exceeded the national standards of care.
Conclusion: After finding the railroad responsible for the fall where the plaintiff’s leg went more than two feet into the gap, causing permanent injury to her sacroiliac joint, it was determined that the railroad was accountable to compensate the woman for her out of pocket expenses, lost income, physical pain and mental suffering.
Carl Berkowitz, Ph.D., P.E., Transportation Safety Consultant with DJS Associates, Inc., can be reached via email at experts@forensicDJS.com or via phone at 215-659-2010.