Auto accidents involving taxicabs, limos and other ride-for hire vehicles can leave victims with debilitating injuries. A taxicab accident can turn the lives of victims and their families upside down. Whether you are a passenger in a taxi or limo, a pedestrian who has been struck by a taxicab or a driver or passenger of another vehicle that has been hit by a taxi or limo, it is important to understand that you have rights.
New York City is unique in that it has more than 13,000 yellow taxicabs serving the five boroughs. In addition there are numerous licensed car services and “gypsy” or unlicensed car services that transport people within the city as well as from New Jersey and other areas. The process for pursuing damages in a New York City taxi accident is very similar to seeking damages in a personal injury claim stemming from any other auto accident. However, it is crucial in such cases that the victim choose an experienced attorney or law firm that has successfully represented other taxi accident victims in New York and helped them secure maximum compensation for their injuries, damages and losses.
What to Do after a Taxi Accident?
Immediately after any type of auto accident, victims experience anxiety, confusion and stress. You may have a number of questions in your mind, from who will pay your medical expenses to how you will hold the negligent parties accountable. Even though this can be a stressful and chaotic time in your life, there are steps you can take after a taxi, limo or shuttle crash to ensure that your legal rights and best interests are protected.
- First and foremost, make sure you get the driver’s license numbers and proof of insurance from all drivers involved in the collision. If you need to get to an emergency room immediately for the treatment of your injuries, then, ask a friend or family member to get that proof of insurance and other information for you.
- Write down the taxi driver’s name, taxicab registration number and the contact information for the taxi company.
- Take detailed photos of the accident scene, property damage and injuries with a camera or a cell phone.
- Call the police, file a report and be sure to get the responding officer’s badge number and precinct number.
- Obtain contact information for any witnesses at the scene. Their testimony can be crucial in terms of establishing fault and bolstering your potential claim.
- Get prompt medical attention and treatment. Do not decline treatment at the scene, if you need it.
- Do not admit fault or make any statements to an insurance company.
- Do not rush into a settlement or give insurance companies access to your personal medical or financial information.
- Immediately contact an experienced New York City taxi accident lawyer who can help review your case and better explain your legal rights and options.
Taxicab Accidents Claims
Taxicab, limo or shuttle accidents are among the more common injury causing incidents that occur in larger cities including New York City. There are a number of ways in which these accidents may happen. A taxicab or limo may hit the car that you are driving or riding in as a passenger and cause injuries. In such a case, as with any other motor vehicle collision, a person filing a claim for damages must be able to prove negligence or who was at fault for the collision, and that the injuries and losses he or she suffered were a result of the collision.
In another scenario, a passenger in a taxicab may be injured due to a collision with another vehicle or even due to a single vehicle accident. Here, injured passengers can file a claim against the driver responsible for the collision and/or his or her employer. Another type of taxi or limo accident can occur when the taxi collides with a pedestrian, bicyclist or motorcyclist. In such cases too the injured victims can file a claim against the taxi driver and/or the taxi company or taxi driver’s employer in order to seek compensation for damages.
Injuries Caused by Taxi Accidents
Taxi accidents can cause significant injuries or even fatalities. Here are some of the common types of injuries that may be sustained in taxi accidents:
- Head and facial injuries: Taxicab passengers may suffer traumatic brain injuries when they hit their head or facial or eye injuries when struck by broken glass.
- Spinal cord trauma: Damage to a victim’s spinal cord during a taxi accident may result in partial or complete paralysis.
- Bone fractures: Some types of broken bone injuries heal with rest and a cast. However, complex fractures or shattered bones may never completely heal even with surgery and extensive rehabilitation.
- Amputations: Limb amputations are often the result of auto accidents. These are catastrophic injuries that may prevent an individual from working or earning an income.
- Burn injuries: When a vehicle erupts in flames, occupants may suffer major burn injuries. These injuries are typically difficult and costly to treat. Many burn victims require expensive skin graft surgeries and may be left scarred and disfigured for life.
- Internal injuries: Damage to internal organs such as the heart, lungs, spleen or kidneys can prove catastrophic or even fatal.
Common Causes of Taxi Accidents
As with other types of motor vehicle accidents, taxi and limo accidents are usually caused by acts of negligence and wrongdoing. Some of the most common causes of taxi and limo accidents include:
- Reckless driving: This is when the driver of the vehicle shows a disregard for safety and the rules of the road. Examples of reckless driving include driving at a dangerous speed given roadway conditions, not obeying stop signs and traffic signals, failure to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections, failure to properly share the roadway with other vehicles such as bicycles and making unsafe turns and lane changes.
- Speeding: Every street in New York City has a speed limit. But, often, we see taxi drivers driving at high speeds in residential neighborhoods or crowded commercial areas without regard for the safety of other drivers and pedestrians. Accidents in New York that occur when a taxi or limo jumps a curb and seriously or fatally injures pedestrians may happen because the driver failed to stick to the speed limit or failed to drive with caution.
- Driving under the influence: Cab drivers who operate under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs put everyone on the roadway at risk. It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Taxi companies have the responsibility to check into an individuals’ driving record before hiring them and can be held liable for negligent hiring and/or negligent employee retention.
- Distracted driving: Distractions have multiplied in the form of onboard and portable entertainment and communications devices. When taxi operators talk on the cell phone or text while driving, this puts their own passengers and others on the roadway in grave danger.
- Fatigued driving: Recent research has found that fatigued driving can be as dangerous as drunk or drugged driving. Drivers must get sufficient rest before getting on the road.
- Poor vehicle maintenance: When a taxi driver and taxi company fail to properly maintain their vehicles, malfunctions such as brake or tire failure can result in serious injury collisions. Taxi companies have a duty to keep their vehicles well maintained in the interest of passenger safety.
Who is Liable for a Taxi Accident?
Depending on the nature and circumstances of the accident involving a taxi, limo or shuttle there may be more than one party that is liable for the victim’s injuries, damages and losses. Liability for a taxi accident may include any of the following parties or a combination. If the driver of a taxi caused the accident, he or she may be held responsible for the injuries of the passenger in the cab and the driver and passengers in other vehicles involved in the collision.
If the driver of the taxi caused the accident, the taxicab company or the driver’s employer can also be held liable. If another driver hit the taxi, then, that driver and his or her employer (if applicable) can be held liable. Taxi companies have a duty and an obligation to hire experienced and qualified drivers, and maintain their vehicles properly. If their failure to do so causes an accident and injuries, the taxi company can be held accountable.
The manufacturer of a vehicle or a defective auto part may also be held accountable if that vehicle defect caused or contributed to the accident. If a dangerous condition on the roadway caused the collision, then the city or governmental agency responsible for maintaining that roadway can be held liable as well.
Highest Duty of Care
Taxis, limousines and shuttles are considered “common carriers” under the law. This means that state and federal laws hold them to a standard of a very high duty of care or obligation to their passengers. Common carriers’ duties of care include ensuring their vehicle’s safety for passengers, hiring qualified drivers to operate the vehicles, maintaining the vehicle’s engines, motors and other parts, and monitoring and correcting vehicle design flaws. In short, the taxi driver and the taxi company have a legal obligation to passengers. They are required under the law to safely transport passengers to their destinations.
Insurance Requirements for Taxis
New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission requires that all yellow taxi cabs and all licensed car services carry a minimum of $100,000/$300,000 in liability insurance coverage. What this means is that when an individual is injured by a taxicab or while traveling as a passenger in a taxicab, he or she has maximum coverage of $100,000 available.
However, if more than one person is injured in or by a taxicab, there is a maximum of $300,000 of liability insurance available to the injured victims. However, this money is not sufficient when it comes to compensating individuals who have suffered severe or catastrophic injuries, or families that have lost loved ones in taxi accidents. Private, unlicensed “gypsy” cabs are not regulated similarly. So, they will often only have a minimum liability insurance policy of $25,000 for one person and $50,000 for more than one person.
Unlike many other states, New York operates under a “No-Fault insurance” system. This means that an injured person’s basic economic losses are covered regardless of whose fault the accident was. So, for example, if the taxicab in which you are a passenger is involved in an accident, the taxi company’s No-Fault coverage is completely responsible for some of your losses. A majority of taxi companies carry a minimum No-Fault coverage of $50,000 in addition to liability insurance coverage.
No-Fault coverage will pay for economic damages such as medical care and expenses, lost income, and other costs associated with your accident and injury. It also includes about $2,000 in death benefits. No-Fault insurance, however, will not cover non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of life’s enjoyment or wrongful death. Injured victims or families of deceased victims will often have to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in order to recover damages not covered by the taxi company’s insurer.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
Injured victims of taxi accidents can seek compensation for damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injury, disability, loss of earning capacity, loss of life’s enjoyment, past and future pain and suffering, etc. The family of a deceased victim can seek compensation as well by filing a wrongful death claim.
If you or a loved one has been injured or if you have lost a loved one as a result of a taxicab accident, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options.
For over 45 years, our skilled accident attorneys have a proven track record of helping injured victims get fair compensation for their losses.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case. We have recovered many millions of dollars for victims of motor vehicle accidents, such as $5,600,000 for a man who was hit by a van, and $2,550,000 for another victim of a truck accident, and $3,000,000 for a pedestrian who was hit by a car.
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