Because it carries “all persons indifferently,” a taxicab is considered a “common carrier” by the law, just like buses, trains, planes, streetcars, and light rail systems. A common carrier has an obligation (“duty”) to use the highest degree of care and safety in transporting its passengers, and can be held legally responsible (“liable”) for any and all injuries resulting from even the slightest carelessness (“negligence”). Note that the duty to use a higher degree of safety to prevent injuries applies only to passengers; to non-passengers, the taxicab driver owes only the general duty to exercise due care to avoid harming others.
The definition of a “passenger” is not limited to persons sitting in the cab while it is moving. The duty to use the utmost care extends to the time a person is getting into or out of the cab. A person becomes a passenger when he or she signals the taxicab and the taxicab stops for the person to get in. A person remains a passenger until he or she has gotten out of the taxicab in a relatively safe area. The taxicab driver’s responsibility to the passenger continues until he or she has had a sufficient opportunity to get away from the taxicab without injury, and reaches a place of safety away from any activity of the taxicab which might constitute a hazard to the passenger.
The taxicab driver is required to use the utmost care while driving to ensure that his or her passengers are not injured. Common causes of taxicab accidents are the cab driver’s failure to yield to oncoming traffic before making a left turn, speeding, failing to stop in time to avoid rear-ending the vehicle in front of it, and carelessly weaving in and out of traffic and making unsafe lane changes.
The taxicab driver is also responsible for making sure that the cab is in good and safe working condition. For instance, the brakes must be capable of stopping the car in an emergency, the tires must have a reasonable amount of tread on them, and the passenger seatbelts must be installed and in proper working condition.
Injuries from a taxicab accident can range from “soft-tissue” injuries to the neck, shoulders, and back to broken limbs, internal injuries, traumatic brain injuries such as concussions, severe burns, and even death.
If you have been injured in a taxicab accident, you should promptly consult an experienced personal injury law firm. The sooner you see an attorney, the sooner he or she can begin an investigation of the accident and see to it that you are getting proper medical attention. The attorney will want to get on the case as soon possible and visit or send an investigator to the scene of the accident and take photographs to capture the condition of the road in the same condition it was in at the time of the accident. The lawyer will also want to get the police report and obtain statements from witnesses while the event is still fresh in their mind.