Many people believe that riding in a cab is one of the safest methods of transportation. Even those who religiously wear seat belts in their own vehicles may feel that it is not necessary to wear a seat belt in a cab. The truth is that cabs also crash, just like any other vehicle on the road. Cab drivers often deal with long shifts, busy traffic, tight deadlines, aggressive customers and constant financial pressure to take on more passengers and routes each day.

Since a cab driver is on the road most of the day under stressful conditions, it’s no wonder they often crash, whether it’s their fault or not. Although cabs crash like other private cars on the road, an accident claim against a cab company or cab driver is very different from a traditional accident claim, regardless of whether you are an injured passenger, a pedestrian or another driver.

While many injured people believe they do not need an attorney to handle a claim after a cab accident, they are often taken advantage of by the insurance company or overwhelmed by the complexity of these claims. The experienced attorneys guide you through the perils of a taxi cab claim and provide peace of mind that your claim is being handled correctly.

While calling an experienced attorney should be done immediately, it is also important to begin developing and documenting your personal injury claim right away, as follows:

Identify all parties involved and document the scene.

Regardless of who you believe was responsible for the accident, it is imperative that you identify the parties involved. The easiest way to obtain this information is to call the police to the scene. Upon arrival, the police will conduct an investigation of the scene, identify the parties involved and make an initial determination of responsibility for the accident. While this information should be found in the written police report, the report may not be available for days, weeks or even months. This is especially true if there is a death or a minor involved.

Since you may not be able to obtain the police report immediately, and the report often omits witnesses and others who may have information helpful to your claim, it is essential to obtain as much information at the scene as possible. Do not interfere with the police investigation, but obtain the names, insurance companies and policy numbers of all drivers involved. If you can, take photos of their driver’s licenses and insurance cards. It is also important to take photos of the scene and damage to the vehicles involved, and obtain the names and phone numbers of witnesses.

Identify the specific cab company and driver.

It is critical to obtain the full name, driver identification number and/or cab number of both the cab driver and the cab company. It is not sufficient to simply obtain the cab company’s business name or the driver’s first or last name. The reason for this is that many companies and drivers have similar names and may result in the insurance company not being able to identify the proper parties. This can result in a delay of your claim or worse, the insurance company denying coverage if they are never located or deny their involvement in the accident.

In addition, it is important to identify the exact cab company and driver, as the driver’s employment status can have an impact on who may be liable for your injuries. In some situations, the cab driver is a contract employee of the cab company. If so, he or she acts as an agent of the company and the cab company is liable by default for any negligent acts of the employee. This means that a claim against the cab driver is essentially a claim against the cab company.

Depending on its size, the cab company will either have its own insurance or will attempt to settle your claim from its internal assets (i.e., it is “self-insured”). If you are seriously injured and have incurred extensive damages, the cab company or its corporate insurer may have “deeper pockets” to pursue your injuries.

What if the cab driver is an independent contractor?

Cab drivers are often independent contractors who own and operate their own personal vehicles. They may be required to sign independent contractor agreements with the cab company, and agree to be personally liable for certain financial and legal obligations. Since the cab driver is not technically an employee, the cab company may attempt to exempt itself from liability for the driver’s actions and subsequently deny any injury claims presented to it. It may then be limited to a claim against the driver only.

In the independent contractor situation, the cab driver may have purchased automobile insurance directly from the cab company or may have purchased his or her own insurance coverage from a private insurance company. The limits of coverage available can vary widely among different drivers and cab companies. Some may purchase larger policies, while others may choose to purchase only the minimum required. Therefore, depending on the extent of your injuries, medical expenses and loss of income incurred, this can be problematic if the cab driver did not purchase sufficient limits of insurance to cover all of your damages.

When the cab driver is not responsible for the accident, it is also equally important to determine whether the cab company or the cab driver carries uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance, medical payment and/or personal injury protection coverage. These coverages can sometimes provide an additional source of recovery for your damages and should always be investigated.

Notify your own insurance company

In addition to notifying the responsible parties, you will also want to be sure to notify your own insurance company of the accident because:

  • Most, if not all, insurance policies require the named insured to notify the insurance company in the event of an automobile accident.
    You may also have coverage on your policy that can help provide an additional source of recovery for your damages, including uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance, medical payment and/or personal injury protection coverage.
  • Your insurance company will initiate its own investigation of the crash and can help identify the appropriate parties and insurance carriers, as well as secure certain evidence, such as photographs of property damage and witness interviews.
  • Cab accident claims come in all shapes and sizes and can involve claims on behalf of passengers, injured drivers and pedestrians. Since the specific details of taxi cab claims can be quite confusing as to who may be responsible for your injuries and what insurance applies, it is very important to get as much information as possible on the spot, document it, and contact an experienced taxi cab claims attorney immediately.

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