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Woman's death on subway stairs highlights inaccessibility issue

Florida parents who have struggled on stairways with strollers may have heard about a mother who died after falling down the stairs in a New York City subway station. She was attempting to take her stroller down the stairs in a station without an elevator. The child was found conscious.

The woman's death highlighted an accessibility problem in New York City's subway system. Only about 25 percent of the 472 subway stations throughout the city have elevators, and of those that do, they are often not in service. This causes difficulties not just for parents and people in wheelchairs or with walkers but for also for people with luggage or simply those who may be unsteady on their feet.

In 2017, a nonprofit legal center called Disability Rights Advocates filed state and federal lawsuits against the MTA alleging that it violated both the American with Disabilities Act and the New York City Human Rights Law. The MTA says that it has increased its rate of elevator installation so that by 2025, no passenger will have to travel more than two stops before arriving at an accessible station.

In a case like this, the family of the woman who died might be able to file a premises liability lawsuit on behalf of her minor child. The presumption behind premises liability laws is that property is supposed to be kept safe for visitors. The property owner or manager's responsibility may range from regularly inspecting amusement park rides to making sure grocery store floors are not wet or cluttered with items that could cause a slip-and-fall accident.

Source: Jezebel, "A Young Woman Fell and Died Trying to Carry Her Baby's Stroller In a Subway Station With No Elevator," Anna Merlan, 1/29/2019

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