7 Jul, 2023

Taxi Accidents: When a Taxi Cab Costs More Than a Fare

Author Todd A. Strong
Taxi collides with silver sedan at intersection causing damage to both cars. Taxi Accidents
Taxi collides with silver sedan at intersection causing damage to both cars. Taxi Accidents

Taxi drivers are held to a higher standard of care than other passenger vehicles on the road. They are “common carriers” and have a duty to drive safely and responsibly. If you were the victim of a taxi accident in Illinois, you may be able to file a taxi accident insurance claim against the liable party to seek compensation for your injuries.

However, you need to determine and prove liability before you can recover damages. Liability in taxi accidents is determined by the primary cause of the accident. Possible liable parties may include the taxi driver, a driver in another vehicle, the taxicab company, or the auto manufacturer.

Who Is Liable for Injuries in a Taxi Accident?

After a taxi accident, you have the right to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. The party that directly contributed to the accident is financially responsible for losses.

Here’s who to sue in a car accident with a taxi:

The Driver of the Taxi Cab

Most taxi accidents happen due to the negligence of one or more drivers. The taxi driver could be liable for injuries in an accident if he or she engages in reckless or careless acts, such as drunk driving, distracted driving, speeding, drowsy driving, or ignoring traffic signals.

You can bring an action against the taxi driver’s insurance policy if the driver’s negligence caused the accident while you were a passenger. If the driver’s insurance is not enough to satisfactorily pay for damages, the taxi company may offer additional coverage.

The Taxicab Company

Some taxi drivers are part of larger organizations that certify or insure them. In Chicago, taxi companies must carry liability car insurance to protect against damage caused by accidents where the driver of the taxicab was at fault. What’s more, taxi companies carry bodily injury liability insurance and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

The insurance provider of a taxi company can be directly or vicariously liable for an accident. With vicarious liability, the taxi company is responsible for the driver’s actions. Direct liability means the taxi cab contributed to the accident. For example, this may occur by the company failing to conduct the driver’s background check or not properly maintaining its fleet of vehicles. When the taxi company is liable for injuries, they will have to pay damages.

The Other Vehicle’s Driver

While a taxi driver may follow all the rules of the road, he or she can’t always avoid another driver’s careless driving. If you were involved in a taxi accident caused by another driver, you can file an insurance claim against the other driver’s insurance provider. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may also qualify for coverage from the taxi company, especially if the other driver doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your bills and losses.

A Third Party

You may be able to hold a third party liable for your taxi accident in Chicago or Peoria. For instance, if your collision was caused by an automotive defect or poor design, you can bring a claim against the auto manufacturing company. If the crash was caused by a road defect, such as a pothole, a government entity may be liable.

Causes of Taxi Accidents

Taxi drivers, just like other drivers on the road, can cause an accident because of human error or pure negligence. Your Illinois taxi accident lawyer can help you establish what caused your collision and who was responsible for the accident.

The following are some common causes of taxi accidents in Chicago:

Distracted Driving

Distractions are a leading factor in causing taxi accidents. Taxi drivers may face more distractions than the average personal car driver. For instance, looking at the map displayed on their navigation systems may take taxi drivers’ eyes off the roads, distracting them from the task of driving.

Distractions for drivers also include talking with passengers in the vehicle, fiddling with the radio, or even texting while operating a cab. Any form of distraction compromises the driver’s attention and ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Navigating Unfamiliar Roads

Taxi drivers may not be familiar with the route they are traveling when transporting a client. Their unfamiliarity increases the likelihood of unsettled driving, including slow driving, sudden turns, and unexpected stops. The unexpected maneuvers can result in taxi collisions.

Driver Fatigue

Fatigued driving also commonly contributes to taxi accidents in Chicago. Fatigued drivers often find it hard to perceive and process information effectively. For instance, a taxi driver may not recognize that they have drifted into the wrong lane until it’s too late, and a serious collision has occurred.

Driver fatigue can also result in reduced attention to the road and slower reaction rates. In some cases, a taxi driver may fall into micro-sleep and briefly lose consciousness while on the road. A few seconds of sleep on the road is the perfect formula for a catastrophic or fatal car accident. Driver fatigue can be as dangerous as driving under the influence.

Speeding

Driving over the posted speed limit can make it hard for the driver to control the vehicle, resulting in a collision. Whether deliberate or unintended, there’s an increased risk for taxi drivers to speed. A taxi driver may not notice his or her speed because he or she may be trying to make as many rides as possible. Alternatively, he or she may be unaware of the speed limit. In some cases, cabbies may drive their vehicles in an unprofessional and reckless manner.

Even if the taxi driver is driving within the posted speed limit, the speed can sometimes be inappropriate based on the weather or road conditions. For instance, driving at a regular speed during snowy weather or with icy road conditions can be hazardous and cause the vehicle to skid into another automobile.

Taxi Vehicle Maintenance

Although taxi drivers have initial vehicle maintenance requirements when starting out, there’s no assurance that vehicle maintenance will be continued. It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure his or her vehicle is in good condition at all times. Car failures and vehicle maintenance issues are common causes of taxicab accidents.

Lack of Training or Experience

While there are requirements for potential taxi drivers before they’re allowed in this business, a taxi company can’t always guarantee a driver’s skill level. At times, the minimum driving experience may not be enough for driving on certain roads or in certain locations.

Driver experience remains a constant concern on traffic-filled streets. Having a driver’s license does not guarantee that a driver will adhere to the law. If an inexperienced driver without the necessary training starts driving on a busy road or area, the chances that he or she could cause an accident are high.

Intoxication

When operating a vehicle under the influence, a taxi driver’s judgment, reaction rate, and vision are impaired. This can impact the decision-making ability of the driver, which is crucial when on the road. He or she could weave between lanes, tailgate another driver, speed, or engage in some other reckless driving practices that could lead to an accident.

Failure to Adhere to Traffic Signs and Signals

Taxi drivers must follow all traffic signs and signals. Ignoring the rules can easily result in an accident, and the at-fault driver can be responsible for injuries resulting from his or her negligence.

Some common signs and signals ignored by taxi drivers include passing in a no-passing zone, failing to stop at a stop sign, driving through a red light, changing lanes without signaling, and failing to yield. Driving with the weather conditions in mind is also part of obeying the rules of the road.

What to Do if You Were Injured in a Chicago Taxi Accident

After a taxi accident, most victims are in shock and confused. Dealing with injuries and sometimes not knowing how the accident occurred can take all your mental and emotional energy. It can be tough to make the right decisions in the aftermath of an accident.

Still, the steps you take immediately after the incident can make or break your personal injury claim. Delays in collecting evidence when still fresh, for instance, can open loopholes for insurance adjusters to delay or deny your claim. Failure to return to the doctor for follow-up appointments will have the insurance provider underestimating the severity of your injuries and looking to lowball settlement offers.

To protect your rights to fair compensation, here’s what to do after a car accident:

Exchange Information With the Driver

Be sure to get the taxi driver’s name, taxi registration number, driver’s license number, employer’s name, employer’s contact information, and insurance information. If the accident involved drivers of other vehicles, take their contact and insurance information as well. Record this information and keep it in a safe place.

Speak to Witnesses

If anyone witnessed the incident, ask them what they saw and take their contact information. Their statement may help you prove the negligence of the at-fault driver. The testimony of a third party can back up your claim that the driver was following too closely, speeding, or engaging in other behavior that led to the accident.

Seek Medical Treatment

Seek help from a medical professional immediately after the accident, even if you believe your injuries are minor. Some injuries, like back pain, brain injury, internal bleeding, and neck injuries, may not be apparent until weeks or months after the accident. Save all your medical bills and be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.

Report the Accident and Get a Copy of the Police Report

In Illinois, accidents involving injury, property damage, or death must be reported to the police. However, taxi drivers may be motivated not to report collisions. They may not want to get in trouble with their employer and or interact with the police. They could also downplay the seriousness of the mishap or inform the police that you weren’t injured.

As such, you’ll need to call the police yourself if the taxi driver is injured or hesitant to make the call. The responding officer will speak to the drivers, passengers, and any witnesses to the accident. He or she will also create a report that outlines the basic facts of the accident, such as where it occurred, the name of the parties involved, and the position of the vehicles. The report may contain notes on the cause of the accident and any traffic violations involved. If you were transported in an ambulance, make a follow-up later with the police department and get a copy of the police report.

Take Photos and Request Footage

Photos and videos can be useful in proving your accident claim. So, if you’re physically able, be sure to take photos of the accident scene from different angles. Your photos should include the damaged taxi, debris from the crash, other damaged vehicles, and items nearby that show the severity of the collision. Also, include several photos of your injuries.

Contact a Taxi Accident Attorney in Illinois

If you were injured in a taxi accident in Chicago or Peoria, you need the assistance of an experienced taxi accidents attorney who handles these complicated cases. An attorney will thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident, identify liable parties, and put together a strong case to ensure you receive maximum compensation for your injuries and losses.

About The Author

Photo of Todd A. Strong
Illinois workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer Todd A. Strong is the founder of Strong Law Offices in Peoria, Illinois. Todd brings considerable legal knowledge, experience, and skill to the table to ensure injured victims throughout the state are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.