Taxis can be a convenient way to get where you need to go, especially in metropolitan, unfamiliar cities areas and when traveling to and from airports. However, taxis carry the same risk of injury accidents as any other vehicle.
Taxi drivers, while skilled professionals, are paid by distance, not time, so they have an incentive, and a reputation to drive fast and sometimes recklessly. In crowded cities and airport traffic, there is more congestion, more pedestrians, and many other factors which increase the risk of an accident.
The most common type of taxicab is the ordinary cab, a brightly labelled passenger car, which may have a roof light indicating whether it is on duty. There are other types of vehicles that serve the same basic function, including limousines, livery cabs, and town cars. Accidents, of course, can happen in any of these.
In recent years, Uber, and other peer-to-peer transportation network companies (TNC) like Lyft have become increasingly common. However, TNCs are operated differently than most taxi services, because TNC drivers are considered private contractors. See our page on Uber & Lyft Accidents for more information on how those types of accidents are typically handled.
If you are a taxi passenger, or a third party (such as a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or cyclist) who was injured in a taxi accident, you are entitled to compensation if the accident was caused by another party’s negligence.
Types of Taxi Accidents
Because taxis play the same role on the road as ordinary cars, common types of cars accidents will happen to taxis at about the same rate.
One unique danger to taxi cabs is the partition between the front and back seats. In an accident, passengers may hit their heads against this partition. Many taxicab accident injuries involve the face and head.
As with other types of car accidents, driver error is by far the most common cause of a taxicab accident, but other factors may cause or contribute to the accident, including poor roadway or vehicle design or maintenance. The cause impacts who may be held liable. For instance, the car manufacturer can be sued for a poorly designed car, or a local government agency can be sued for not properly designing or maintaining the roadway.
Taxi drivers are responsible for maintaining their vehicle in good working order, and if they fail to do this, they are liable for any accidents or injuries caused by their negligence.
What Is The Classification Of a Taxi Under the Law?
If you were in a taxi accident, your legal standing may vary depending on whether you were a passenger or a third party.
Taxis are recognized as common carriers. Under the law, a common carrier is any conveyance service that is offered to the public as willing to transport any passenger, for a set fee or schedule of fees.
Common carriers are differentiated from private carriers, which include ordinary automobile drivers and others who do not hold their service out to the public. Other common carriers include airplanes, trains, and buses. Unlike these conveyances, taxis do not have a set schedule or destinations, but meet the basic condition of holding themselves out to the public for transportation.
Being a common carrier makes a significant difference, legally speaking. Under most circumstances, private carriers are only required to provide ordinary care for their passengers and fellow road occupants. This means they must take all the same precautions as a prudent driver would, under the same circumstances.
Common carriers, however, are required to demonstrate utmost care for their passengers. This means they must do everything within their power to ensure the vehicle is safe, and if they demonstrate even the slightest degree of negligence, they will be held liable.
The driver’s duty of utmost care only applies to passengers within the taxi itself. Common carriers are only required to show ordinary care to other road users outside the taxi, such as pedestrians or third-party drivers.
Assessing Fault and Damages in a Taxi Accident
If you were a passenger who was injured in a taxicab accident, you cannot be at fault, unless you actively did something to stop the taxi driver from driving safely. This means you will be eligible to collect damages from some source, whether from the taxi driver, from the driver of the other car that hit the taxi (if it was a multi-vehicle accident), or from some combination if both drivers shared fault.
If your driver was 100% at fault, the taxi company’s insurance must pay you 100% of the damage; or the other party’s insurance will pay 100%, if someone else was at fault. However, if your driver was 60% at fault and another driver was 40% at fault, your driver/taxi company will be liable 60% of the damages from and the other driver the remaining 40%.
The percentages will vary depending on the circumstances of your case, but you will still be eligible to collect the full amount of damages. However, this doesn’t guarantee a smooth outcome; insurance adjusters typically try to pay as little as possible on all claims.
If you were a driver or other third party involved in an accident with a taxi, your ability to collect damages will depend on whether you are partially or completely at fault for the accident. If the taxi driver was at fault, you have every right to file a claim for damages, just as you would in any other accident.
Filing a claim against a taxi driver’s insurance is like filing a claim against any other driver’s insurance company. However, the issue will be complicated based on whether the taxi driver owned their taxi, or whether a larger taxi company owned it.
Taxis, in general, are also required to have higher insurance limits than most passenger cars. This may work in your favor.
What Should You Do After a Taxi Accident?
If you are in a taxi accident, take all the same steps you would take after any other car accident.
The first thing you should do is make sure you and others are safe, and seek immediate medical attention for any injuries. If an ambulance is called to the scene, don’t refuse treatment, even if you don’t think you’re hurt. This is extremely important, both for medical and legal reasons. It is important to receive a medical assessment of all your injuries as soon as possible. Some injuries are more serious than they seem at first.
Be sure to take the contact info of the taxi driver and any other drivers or witnesses. If you were a driver, exchange insurance information with all other relevant parties Take photos or video of the accident and capture any evidence that may be important to the case.
If you are injured, it is important to talk to a personal injury attorney who has experience in dealing with taxicab accidents. TorkLaw’s team of auto accident attorneys have experienced handling taxi accidents, and we know what it takes to ensure injured victims receive the damages they deserve.
Call TorkLaw today for a FREE consultation.