Yes, they have.
In November 1919, nearly 100 people were killed when a speeding subway train hit an "S"-curve, jumped its tracks and smacked into the tunnel. The mostly wooden cars impaled passengers and wiped out lights along the tunnel wall. As passengers tried to make their way out, crews restored power to the third rail, unaware of what was happening in the tunnel. Another dozen or so passengers were electrocuted until the third rail shorted out again. This time, power was not restored.
Since that time, the Transit Authority eliminated the "S"-curve and modified the route. Covers run the length of the third rail to keep it dry. One hundred years later (that's right), accidents involving the third rail do happen, but they are few and far between.
"The Subway: A Trip Through Time on New York's Rapid Transit" by Stan Fischler
· 1 decade ago