Seoul Metro ordered to compensate man who lost five toes at subway station

February 2, 2015
A subway station in Seoul bustles with commuters. (Yonhap)

A subway station in Seoul bustles with commuters. (Yonhap)

By Lee Kyung-min

A district court ordered subway operator Seoul Metro to compensate a man who lost five toes after they were severed by a defective escalator at a subway station.

The 40-year-old victim, surnamed Oh, filed a compensation suit after the accident at Yeoksam Station in southern Seoul on Feb. 1, 2011, where his right shoe was pulled into a one-centimeter space between the comb plate and the steps of an escalator.

The Seoul Central District Court said that Seoul Metro, operated by the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), should pay Oh 66 million won ($60,000).

“The firm was negligent in its duty to keep its transit system safe on all occasions. Its failure caused this accident,” the judge said in his ruling.

“The escalator was already in need of repair even before Oh sustained the injury. On the day of the accident, officials had conducted two inspections, yet they failed to address the problem. Their failure to complete their job in a thorough manner was nothing but negligence by the company as a whole.”

However, the judge said that Oh was also responsible for his injury, because he was not looking down at the steps in preparation to get off properly, adding he was 20 percent responsible for the accident.

“Indeed, when the accident occurred, Oh was counting money in his hands, and was somewhat distracted. Although his action was not out of ordinary compared to that of common users of escalator, he was wrong by not paying full attention to his use of the escalator,” the judge added.

Oh initially demanded some 100 million won ($98,000), but the judge only ordered for 66 million won after considering his income, hospital treatment costs, prescription costs, and caregiver expense during and after the injury.