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What To Do When You’re Injured By A Taxi, Livery Or Limousine

There are approximately 50,000 vehicles and 100,000 drivers who are licensed and regulated by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission with about 240 million passengers being transported throughout the five boroughs annually. There are yellow medallion taxicabs, livery cars, gypsy cabs, airport shuttles, limousines and other various vehicles for hire.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a taxi/livery/limousine accident and suffered injuries, or someone close to you has died in a taxi or another vehicle-for-hire accident, call the Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C., at 212-668-0100 or reach out online to schedule a free consultation.

It is no surprise that accidents involving for-hire vehicles occur often, considering the fact that taxi and cab drivers engage in aggressive driving in order to maximize the number of cab fares in their vehicles on a daily basis. Unfortunately, operators of taxis and other for-hire vehicles usually try to work the maximum amount of hours allowed, often leading to negligence on the part of these drivers. This negligence puts not only the passengers inside the taxis and other for-hire vehicles at risk for injury but also pedestrians who may be crossing or standing in the street, not to mention other motorists and occupants in other vehicles as well.

Common Causes Of For-Hire Motor Vehicle Accidents

With people traveling to and from work and other destinations daily, and tourists as well as others visiting New York City every day, the potential for accident injuries ranging from minor to severe is high on the public streets and highways in and surrounding the greater metropolitan area. Many have even lost their loved ones in fatal accidents involving for-hire vehicles. Some common causes of accidents involving all of New York City taxis, cabs, limousines and other livery car services include:

  • Driver negligence, distraction, and/or fatigue
  • Unqualified or inexperienced drivers
  • Improper cellphone use
  • Unsafe and/or illegal lane changes
  • Failure to yield
  • DUI (driving under the influence)/DWI (driving while intoxicated)
  • Traveling at unsafe speeds
  • Failure to obey traffic laws and signs
  • Mechanical malfunctions and defective equipment
  • Hazardous road conditions
  • Improper highway maintenance

Common Injuries Suffered In For-Hire Vehicle Accidents

Accidents involving for-hire car services occur approximately 11 times per day in the city of New York. Certain for-hire vehicles are more dangerous than others. For example, in 1994, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission made it mandatory for all yellow medallion taxis to install hard plastic partitions between the front seat where the driver sits and the back seat where there are usually passengers. Regrettably, accidents involving yellow taxis have resulted in many facial, dental and hand injuries, including multiple fractures due to contact with this hard plastic partition. Other injuries due to sharp edges involving the plastic partition include lacerations, cuts and facial scarring. There are a host of other serious life-altering injuries involving taxi, limousine and other for-hire vehicles, which include the following:

  • Fractures/broken bones
  • Whiplash
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Herniated disks
  • Knee injuries
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Rupture of internal organs
  • Chronic pain
  • Torn ligaments, tendons and muscles

Liability Insurance Coverage Requirements For Taxi/Livery/Limousine And Other For-Hire Vehicles In New York City

New York State law requires that owners of all motor vehicles operating in New York maintain a minimum amount of $25,000/$50,000 liability coverage on their vehicles in order to protect injured victims of motor vehicle accidents. However, the City of New York (covering Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Staten Island) requires through its New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission, which governs taxis/cabs/liveries/limousines and other for-hire vehicles that operate in the City of New York, to maintain a minimum of $100,000/$300,000 in liability insurance coverage.

What this means is that with respect to livery or for-hire vehicles (e.g., taxi, cab, livery, limousine) licensed to operate in the City of New York, the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission requires that each owner of such a vehicle must maintain bodily injury liability insurance coverage to cover one person injured in a motor vehicle accident in an amount not less than $100,000 per person and for injury to two or more persons in an amount not less than $300,000. These minimum requirements can be met by either a single insurance policy providing the required limits on a primary basis or by means of an excess policy that, in combination with a primary policy, provides the required limits.

Gypsy/Unlicensed New York City Cabs

Unfortunately, while the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission regulates cars for-hire in the City of New York, there remain many unlicensed cabs that continue in operation throughout the City of New York. Although many of these unauthorized vehicles do have markings on them, they are likely unlicensed and not authorized for use by the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission. They are sometimes referred to as “gypsy cabs.”

Some of these gypsy cabs are also being driven by private individuals who are utilizing their own vehicles in order to provide unauthorized taxi-like services. These unlicensed cabs are found most often in the outer boroughs outside of Manhattan where they cruise the streets looking for people to flag them down for a ride. There is usually no meter in these vehicles, and a price is agreed upon when the individual enters the vehicle.

Unfortunately, if there is an accident involving an unlicensed gypsy or other livery cab, there may only be available to a victim the maximum liability coverage of $25,000/$50,000 under an insurance policy for injuries and other damages suffered in a motor vehicle accident. The reason for this is that these vehicles that are not operating pursuant to the New York Taxi & Limousine Commission only need to have the same minimum motor vehicle liability coverage required for any other driver of any other motor vehicle in the State of New York, which is the $25,000/$50,000 minimum limits. Therefore, it is important to utilize only licensed cabs or other for-hire cars on the streets throughout the City of New York.

Coverage For Medical Expenses, Lost Wages And Other Immediate Expenses

As a victim involved in a for-hire motor vehicle accident, whether as a result of being in a yellow cab, livery car, limousine or another for-hire vehicle, there are laws within the State of New York commonly referred to as “No-Fault” laws that provide mandatory benefits for victims of motor vehicle accidents resulting in coverage for your health care expenses, lost earnings and other reasonable expenses relating to a motor vehicle accident as defined by the Insurance Law of the State of New York.

This coverage is known as “basic economic loss” and is available usually up to $50,000 per person. This coverage that is available under the No-Fault law has nothing to do with your ability to sue all responsible parties in a court of law for monetary damages to compensate you for your pain and suffering and any permanent injuries you suffered. The purpose of No-Fault coverage is to provide you with monies to cover medical bills and costs, lost wages and other reasonable expenses shortly after an accident. Once again, this coverage has nothing to do with obtaining monetary compensation for your pain and suffering, and the result of your injuries, which can result in long-term damage requiring significant compensation to be paid by those responsible for the accident.

Learn more about how No-Fault benefits may apply when in an accident with any type of motor vehicle.

Traffic Laws Governing For-Hire Drivers

The laws controlling drivers of taxis, livery cars, cabs and/or limousines involved in motor vehicle accidents will be found in the Vehicle and Traffic Law of the State of New York, as well as certain regulations, which have been enacted by the City of New York within the Department of Transportation Traffic Rules. The Vehicle and Traffic Law is applicable on public highways, private roads open to public motor vehicle traffic and many of the parking lots that are open to the public. These rules of the road apply to all vehicles unless otherwise provided under the law.

The statutory rules of the road are applicable and enforced throughout the state unless express authority has been given to local government and designated authorities, such as the City of New York, to enact its own additional ordinances, rules or regulations. Therefore, the City of New York may enact local ordinances and rules relating to traffic for the purpose of regulating taxis, cabs and other vehicles for hire on the roadways or highways.

Generally speaking, under the law, it is the duty of every driver of a vehicle for hire to use reasonable care, taking into account the actual and potential dangers existing from weather, road, traffic and other conditions. Each motorist is under a duty to maintain a reasonably safe rate of speed, as well as to have his or her motor vehicle under reasonable control and to keep a proper lookout under the circumstances then existing to see and be aware of what was in his or her view, and to use reasonable care to avoid an accident. Therefore, a driver is charged with the duty to see that which under the facts and circumstances he or she should have seen by the proper use of his or her senses, and if it is found that a motorist did not observe that which was there to be seen, that motorist may be found negligent in failing to look or in not looking carefully.

Getting The Recovery You Need After An Accident

When you are injured by one of these for-hire vehicles, you have several options to pay for care. For immediate and necessary expenses, as with any other motor vehicle accident, you have access to basic No-Fault insurance coverage. Companies that manage a taxicab or limousine may have a larger insurance policy than a vehicle owned by a private person, offering higher payouts for serious injuries their passengers suffer. However, these insurance companies will always try to minimize the amount of money you receive, so it is always best to approach these cases with a skilled personal injury attorney to ensure you get paid every penny you deserve.

At the Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C., we offer free consultations, and we never receive any fee for our services unless we recover a monetary award for you. Call 212-668-0100 to set up an appointment, or contact us online to get started.

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