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In San Francisco, cable cars average about an accident a month and routinely rank among the most accident-prone mass transportation modes in the country per vehicle mile traveled annually.
According to the AP, the city has recently paid nearly $8 million to settle about four dozen legal claims.
The city has paid on average $12 million annually to settle all claims connected to its mass transportation system that in addition to cable cars consists of electric street cars and buses, which travel many more miles and carry many more passengers.
Federal transportation figures show 19 injuries and 16 accidents last year, the second highest amount reported in the last 10 years. There were 36 accidents reported in 2004, said AP.
The city has been settling lawsuits almost since the cable cars began operation in 1893. One woman won a 1970 jury verdict of $50,000 after she claimed that a minor accident on a cable car she was riding turned her into a nymphomaniac.
The biggest single payout over the last three years went to John Gainor, who received $3 million in November 2011 because his foot had to be amputated after it got caught between the cable car he was standing on and a parked vehicle.
Another $4 million went to the four victims of a runaway cable car that sped down a notoriously steep San Francisco hill before leaving the tracks and careening onto the sidewalk. The brakeman fell down outside the cable car as he was pushing it and couldn't get back aboard. A tourist from Texas suffered a broken femur and three others were seriously injured.