Days have passed since the tragic Metro North derailment accident has occurred, claiming four passengers’ lives and injuring more than 70. With an accident of this magnitude hovering over the heads of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the agency is expected to feel the wrath from the victims’ families as well as survivors, who will be filing wrongful death lawsuits and injury claims—which, of course, will cost the MTA millions and millions of dollars. But unfortunately for them, the insurance may cover all but $10 million for MTA — leaving the rest of a hefty tab on them – and after the self-insurance is exhausted an extra $50 million will be coming from their capture insurer, First Mutual Transportation Assurance Co., as director of risk and insurance management Laureen Coyne states.
In addition to this, the MTA maintains $350 million in liability insurance through multiple carriers in the commercial markets, so in total, the agency is reportedly covered for up to $410 million in liabilities and states it’s well enough prepared to deal with any and all claims, which are likely to materialize in the months ahead as the nature of the injuries and causes of the accident become clearer. Buckle up, MTA:
“Because we’re a self-insured, self-administered entity, that’s typically how we handle our third-party property and personal-injury claims,” Ms. Coyne said. “We have claims offices in each of the entities, in each of the MTA agencies, who will process the claims. And then we call on experts as we need them, defense counsel as we need them. But we have a full-service claims and legal staff within our agencies.”
That staff will come in handy when the lawsuits begin to roll in and more revelations about the crash emerge. Already several reports have laid the blame on the train’s engineer, who was said to be dozing at the controls when the train entered a curve with a 30-mph speed limit traveling in excess of 80 mph.
The MTA can expect to face lawsuits seeking payment for medical expenses, loss of life, pain and suffering, and lost wages as a result of the accident.
It is “too early to tell” whether the MTA’s insurance premiums will go up in the wake of the derailment, Ms. Coyne said. Premiums did not increase after a Metro-North train derailed in Connecticut last May, she said. However, no passengers were killed in that accident.
“We’re still making determinations on the extent of the injuries and so forth, so I think it’s really premature,” Ms. Coyne said when asked if the agency expected to tap its excess layer of insurance.
A 58-year-old dentist who suffered a fractured spinal cord and broken ribs is set to file the first claim against the MTA, the New York Post reported Tuesday. And there will likely be many more claims to come, said Jeffrey Block, one of the city’s top personal injury lawyers.
“Unfortunately, when you act in a manner that’s negligent, careless or reckless, and you harm people, you have to be responsible to pick up the price tag for what you’ve done,” Mr. Block said. “And it’s unfortunate that it’s going to cost a great deal of money, but the true misfortune falls upon the families of those who were injured.
“Those are the people who are going to have to live the rest of their lives suffering daily with what went on as a result of either the train operator’s negligence or the MTA’s negligence in failing to maintain the train properly.”
Source: Crain’s New York