Our Panama City accident team knows that taxis can be more than just a terrific convenience. When a driver has too much to drink, a taxi driver can be a true "knight in shining armor." We applaud every driver who calls a taxi and every passenger who helps a drunk driver make the decision to have someone else take the wheel. Still, taxis do have a notorious reputation for weaving in and out of traffic or speeding when it helps maximize profits, placing both passengers and bystanders at risk. Wes Pittman has the knowledge and experience that is vital to helping victims of taxicab collisions recover compensation for their injuries.
Taxi accidents often involve problems of driver inattention or carelessness, the same factors that can play a role in any collision. However, cabs raise some unique legal complexities. When the driver owns and operates his own cab, he is usually responsible for any legal damages. However, a large number of drivers either rent the cab car from a taxi company or work as a company employee. In those cases, the company or its insurance carrier may be held liable for the actions of the driver. In addition to standard issues of employment law, the victim's case may also involve evidence that company policies (written or unwritten) encouraged lax safety standards. The company's failure to maintain its vehicles in good working condition may be another aggravating factor in these cases.
When a taxi accident causes injury to a passenger, a special standard that applies to "common carriers" also become relevant. The law creates an added duty of care when people pay for transportation. Common carriers include taxis, trains, buses, and planes. These carriers must exercise the utmost care and diligence to ensure the safety of their passengers. This enhanced duty can even apply before a passenger steps into the cab car, with courts finding liability when both the passenger and driver/company show the intent to do business. Duties last until the passenger is safely out of the vehicle.
As with other injury cases, victims of taxi crashes can receive compensation for direct economic consequences, such as medical costs and lost wages. Taxis are excluded from Florida's no-fault rules, so a victim injured due to driver negligence can recover without having to prove permanent injury. In some cases, victims can also recover compensation for intangibles such as pain and suffering. If the evidence show the defendant (either the driver or the taxi company) acted with malice, fraud, or other extreme fault, punitive damages can be added as a way to punish the wrongdoer.
Florida insurance rules further emphasize the added responsibility of taxicabs. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, a self-employed taxi driver who owns his own vehicle must carry $125,000 of Bodily Injury Liability coverage per person, $250,000 per occurrence, and at least $50,000 in Property Damage Liability coverage. By comparison, a standard driver must hold $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection and $10,000 coverage for Property Damage Liability (Bodily Injury Liability coverage is recommended but not required, unless the driver has a DUI conviction or was found "at fault" in a prior accident).
At The Pittman Firm, we know that every accident is unique. We also understand Florida law, including the special rules that apply in taxi accident cases. Please call if we can put our knowledge and experience to work for you.