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Woman Falls on Tracks at Andrews MBTA Station

Are Boston area subways unsafe for passengers?

Falling onto the rails of a subway would be a petrifying experience. A 44-year-old woman had to suffer through several minutes of sheer fear as she walked into a subway pit at the Andrews MBTA station on Monday afternoon.

Luckily for the woman, she escaped unharmed. Well, relatively unharmed. She was taken to Boston Medical Center with a minor leg injury.

The woman was helped out by a fellow passenger. She was fortunate not to make contact with the electric subway rails.

There isn’t much indication yet about fault or finger-pointing. But the incident begs us to ask how safe the subway stations are and whether anything could have been done to prevent accidents like this fall.

These tend to be questions that get asked when there’s a fatality. At that point, serious investigation is done to determine whether or not a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought and if so, what the defenses against such a lawsuit are.

Only then are the important questions asked, such as “who’s fault was it?” and “was there any way this could have been avoided?”

The first question sets up grounds for establishing causation, while the second question addresses foreseeability — both essential elements for a strong of negligence.

But why should those questions be asked only once it’s too late?

If a woman can fall in, then perhaps it’s time for the MBTA to take a long, hard look at the current subway stations and see if there’s room for safety improvements.

At this point and given the reported state of her injuries, it’s unlikely that the woman can sue for anything more than a slip and fall, perhaps with some negligent infliction of emotional distress claims added in.

While this case might not blow up into a major lawsuit, the MBTA should take from this experience and consider safety measures.

Next time, they might not be so lucky.

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