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Unintentional Injuries Abound in NYC: Here's How to Avoid Them

man distracted by phone

In a city as crowded and busy as New York, it is easy to get distracted. Even though this makes for a fun and interesting place to live or visit, it can also make the city a potentially perilous place to navigate. The risk for unintentional injury lurks around each corner, on every crosswalk, and in all the subway stations. If a person doesn’t know how to avoid the unintentional injury traps located around the city, surviving here could be a challenge for even the toughest New Yorker.

Unintentional injuries are the leading causes of hospitalizations in NYC, accounting for tens of thousands of trips to the emergency room each year. Many of these are the result of an unintentional fall, but the number of pedestrians and cyclists struck by vehicles is also substantial.

In order to avoid becoming another of NYC’s unassuming victims, here is a list of some of the most frequent unintentional injuries that occur in NYC and how to prevent them.

Slips and Falls

The leading cause of injury in all of NYC — and it’s not even close — is unintentional falls. These falls could involve slipping on a wet restaurant floor, or in a building lobby, but are just as likely to occur running down the subway stairs to catch the train on a rainy day, or slipping on some black ice after a winter storm.

In order to prevent this from happening to you, all you need to do is be more aware of your surroundings. For example, if it snows at night the sidewalk will be icy and dangerous the next day, so walk with caution. Similarly, if it is raining outside try and avoid rushing up or down stairs, because you are more likely to slip.

Distracted Walking

Distracted walking is a major problem in the city, as millions of pedestrians contend with thousands of cars to cross the city’s many intersections each day. A research study tried to measure the number of distracted walkers at some of the city's busiest intersections, and made some predictable findings.

The study observed more than 20,000 pedestrians at five different intersections and found that one-third of people crossing the street were distracted when they had the right of way. More startling though, the study found that when people did not have the right of way they crossed the street distracted 50 percent of the time.

In order to avoid becoming another casualty, all you need to do is pay attention to your surroundings, especially when crossing the street. This means stepping into a doorway to answer a text message or answering your email before you start walking, so you don’t have to do it on the move.

Subway Hazards

Aside from being a sweaty and uncomfortable mess, subway stations have also proven to be quite dangerous. In 2013 the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said 151 people were struck by trains, resulting in 53 fatalities. That was up from the preceding decade’s average, when 134 people were struck by a train and 41 people were killed, on average, each year.

To avoid being hit by a subway train, the most basic rule to follow is to stand back from the platform's edge when a train is approaching. Platforms are painted with a yellow line along their edge, and if you stay behind it, you decrease your risk of being struck by a train or falling onto the track.

Another good subway safety rule to follow is if one of your belongings falls onto the track, never go down to pick it up. Inform a police officer or an MTA official, and they will look into retrieving it for you.

Finally, mind the gap between the train and the platform so you don’t get a foot stuck in it.


Biking is a healthy and efficient way to get around in an extremely congested city like New York. This can be very dangerous in some parts of the city, where there is heavy traffic or the bike lanes are not clearly marked. In 2014, nearly 4,000 cyclists were injured and 20 died after being struck by a motor vehicle, according to the NYC Department of Transportation.

In an effort to reduce the number of cyclist injuries and fatalities, NYC DOT issued bicycling rules and safety tips. The agency’s first tip is to ride in a straight line, because riding predictably will make it easier for cars to avoid you. It also recommends that cyclists always wear a helmet, bright colors, and no headphones, because these will make you more aware of your surroundings, and your surroundings more aware of you. Finally, since bike lanes are right next to parked cars, watch out for car doors, which can suddenly open in your path.

Accidental and unintentional injuries will never be totally prevented in a city as large and busy as NYC. However, following the simple preventative measures laid out it in this post could reduce the likelihood of an unintentional injury happening to you.

If you are injured in NYC for any reason you may be entitled to compensation for your injury if it was the fault of another. To find out if you have a case contact our personal injury attorneys today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.