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Smoke filled subway train leaves one dead

Passengers on public transportation systems put a lot of faith into not only the drivers who transport them back and forth, but also in the equipment that is used. With most passengers having no experience repairing trains, buses or subways, they are left at the mercy of others when there is a breakdown. Most breakdowns result in little more than a delay for passengers, but sometimes it can be deadly.

Shortly after pulling out of the station, a train in Washington, D.C., grated to a stop while a foul smelling black smoke filled the station and the train cars. In one of the stopped trains a woman died from smoke inhalation. More than 80 others were sent to the hospital due to smoke inhalation, with over a fourth remaining a day later. It is now known that an electrical malfunction caused the smoke, but there are still many unanswered questions. Although the woman’s death is the first since a 2009 railway accident, passengers are questioning the effectiveness of the response to the accident.

In Missouri, part of the duty that common carriers owe to their passengers is to abide by safety procedures. Employees of train, bus and other mass transit companies should have safety procedures in place, and their employees need to be aware and trained in their use. Not having staff trained in proper safety protocols can be considered negligent, opening a company up to liability.

Companies that are in the business of providing mass transit services owe their passengers an increased duty when it comes to their safety. A civil lawsuit could hold a company responsible for any injuries, whether they are caused due to unsafe conditions or inadequate training.

Source: KWWL, “Deadly subway malfunction leaves many unanswered questions,” Jessica Gresko, Jan. 13, 2015