Attorney John Nojima of the Los Angeles Law Firm Lederer & Nojima Shares his Insight on Recent Commuter Train Fatalities in New York and Los Angeles

With the recent commuter train crash in New York, Attorney John Nojima encourages public transit authorities, including LA's Metro, to make safety the highest priority.

Over the last two years, including the most recent crash on February 3, 2015, the state-operated Metro-North railroad in New York has experienced several serious crashes. The most recent resulted in the deaths of five train passengers and the driver of an SUV whose vehicle was struck by the train in Westchester County, according to media reports including this ABC News story, "Investigators Want to Know Why Woman Drove Onto Tracks" by Dan Good, from February 5, 2015. Several eyewitnesses say that the driver of the SUV drove onto the tracks, exited her car, then got back into it before it was struck.

Attorney John Nojima, of the Los Angeles Law Firm Lederer & Nojima, represents clients who have been injured in Metropolitan Transportation Authority accidents in Los Angeles. "Theses trains, subways, busses and vans that operate throughout our nation's largest cities serve a vital function but, over the course of my career, I have seen dozens of these types of crashes and know that the injuries and the challenges for victims can be life-changing. While the case in New York is still under investigation, it serves as a reminder to public transportation authorities to rededicate themselves to safety."

While Metropolitan Transportation Authority crashes are rare, the attorney says, "even one is too many. In New York, there have been several major ones in the last couple of years. In Los Angeles, we have had our share as well. In fact, in early January, a man was struck and killed by a Metro Red Line train in Studio City. While the details of that case are still emerging, it does beg the question: are pedestrians protected from venturing onto tracks? In the New York case, are drivers being adequately prevented from accessing the tracks? These are the questions critics and investigators will be asking" ("Person fatally struck by Metro Red Line train in Studio City" by Joseph Serna from January 2, 2015's Los Angeles Times).

New York's Metro-North, which is used throughout the southeastern portion of the state, within New York City, and by commuters in neighboring states, has had two other major crashes in recent years. The New York Times' Matt Flegenheimer and Robert Davey reported on May 17, 2013 that two Metro-North commuter trains collided in Connecticut ("Metro-North Trains Collide in Connecticut; Dozens of Injuries Are Reported") leading to sixty injuries, five of them critical. Later that year, in December, a Metro-North train derailed in the Bronx, leading to the death of four passengers and dozens of injuries according to the New York Times story "Metro-North Train Sped at 82 M.P.H. Ahead of Curve in Fatal Crash" from December 2, 2013 by Matt Flegenheimer.

"These kinds of accidents should be a reminder to public transportation operators throughout the country. The infrastructure, the oversight, the maintenance and the safe operation of these vehicles is paramount. If a MTA in any part of the country fails in its responsibility, they must be held accountable," Nojima says. "Even right here in LA, we have had our own very recent reminders. In addition to the Metro rail fatality in Studio City, a Metro bus was recently involved in a crash involving several other vehicles. Thankfully, no one was killed."

The incident Nojima references occurred on February 4, 2015. A Los Angeles Metro bus and three other vehicles were involved in a crash in south Los Angeles, NBC reports ("Bus Crash Leaves Several Injured" by Irene Moore). "Though it doesn't appear that anyone in this crash has life-threatening injuries, it is not uncommon for seemingly minor injuries to develop into chronic and lifelong challenges for victims. This is one of the many reasons that these types of accidents must be investigated by a legal team that has injury victims' best interests at heart. If negligence was involved, injury victims must be compensated for both long and short-term costs."

Nojima adds that he will be monitoring the latest incident in Los Angeles as well as the developments in the cases in New York. "Any time one of these crashes occurs, Lederer & Nojima take notice. These types of cases can be extremely complex and we are always developing our resources and our insight into these types of cases because, unfortunately, another MTA crash is bound to happen. We hope the authorities and everyone responsible for safety ensures safe travels but until these types of crashes are a thing of the past, Lederer & Nojima will be on the side of victims."

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