Florida’s warm climate and sunny weather draw tourists and convention-goers throughout the year, creating ample business opportunities for taxi companies and drivers in New Port Richey, the Greater Tampa area, and across the state. In addition to visitors, residents also use taxi companies when they don’t want to worry about driving in the city or drinking and driving after a night out. Regardless of the reason for hailing a cab, passengers are at risk for injury when their driver is involved in an accident. When passengers sustain an injury in a taxi accident, they may be eligible to seek compensation for their injuries.
If you were injured as a passenger in a taxi cab accident, Florida law permits you to seek damages through a personal injury lawsuit in many situations. Contact the skilled motor vehicle accident attorneys at the Dolman Law Group in New Port Richey at (727) 853-6275 for a free case evaluation and to determine your eligibility for compensation. Until you have a chance to consult with one of our experienced lawyers, the following frequently asked questions (FAQs), with provided answers, will provide you with general information about the causes of taxi accidents, taxi driver insurance requirements, steps to take after a taxi accident, and how to recover damages after being injured as a passenger in a taxi.
What Are Common Causes of Taxi Accidents?
Many scenarios might lead to a taxi accident in Florida. Passengers are especially at risk for injury during an accident because many do not wear seat belts in the back seat. When a collision occurs, passengers’ bodies sometimes slam against the partition that is present in most taxis. Knowing the causes of taxi accidents will help you watch for potential hazards that might lead to injury. Below we discuss some of the most common causes of taxi accidents:
- Distracted drivers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nine people die and 1,000 people sustain injuries each day across the nation from accidents caused by distracted driving. A distraction is anything that causes a driver to take their eyes, hands, or mind off of the road. Common distractions include radios, food, and cell phone usage. Taxi drivers are especially at risk for accidents when they are distracted by talking with passengers or by adjusting their GPS, if they use one.
- Driver fatigue. Federal and state governments heavily regulate hours of service for those who get paid to drive and hold a commercial drivers’ license (CDL). This is not the case for taxi drivers, who don’t need a CDL. Taxi drivers work long hours without limits put their passengers and other vehicles on the road at risk for an accident when they transport passengers without getting proper rest. Taxi drivers who work late shifts that go against their natural sleep clock might also fall victim to driver fatigue.
- Driving under the influence. Using illegal drugs, alcohol, or prescription medication leads to the same types of dangers for taxi drivers as it does for other motorists who abuse or use these substances. Although using caffeine isn’t illegal, taxi drivers who consume or ingest large amounts of caffeine or other over-the-counter substances to stay awake are at risk for accidents when the effects of these substances wear off. Residents and visitors who use taxis late at night after being out at the bar are also at risk for injury when other motorists, who might hit their taxi, drive under the influence.
- Poor car maintenance. Not adequately maintaining a vehicle is dangerous for any driver, but the heavy usage of a taxi cab requires extra attention from drivers and/or owners. Without regulations that force drivers to inspect and maintain their cabs, passengers are at risk for injury from an accident when some drivers and cab companies fail to make car maintenance a priority. Simple things like not changing tires, not rotating tires, and not changing brake pads might lead to severe, even fatal, accidents. A tire blowout or failed brakes, as well as other issues, may cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle and collide with fixed objects or other vehicles on the road.
- Speeding. Violating any traffic regulation can cause a taxi accident, but speeding warrants special attention for taxi cab drivers. Passengers are anxious to get to their destination, and taxi drivers are motivated to quickly deliver passengers to their location. The more passengers a taxi driver has in a day, the more money he or she will make. Speeding doesn’t always directly lead to an accident, but always increases the chances that an accident will result in a severe injury or fatality for passengers and other motorists.
- Tailgating. Following too closely remains a common cause of auto accidents, especially for taxi drivers who feel rushed to get their passengers to their destinations. When drivers tailgate the car in front of them, they don’t allow enough time or distance to respond if the vehicle in front suddenly stops, makes a sharp turn, or makes some other erratic movement. Inclement weather increases the danger of following too closely.
What Are Florida’s Auto Insurance Laws for Taxis?
Under Florida law, for-hire passenger vehicles, including taxis and the companies that own them, must prove financial responsibility; this is done through insurance requirements. Florida requires all drivers to have the following coverage:
- Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage is required for all motorists under Florida law.
- $50,000 minimum death and bodily injury liability coverage per person
- $100,000 minimum death and bodily injury liability coverage per incident
- $25,000 minimum property damage liability (PDL) coverage per incident
Florida law does not require taxi drivers to have PIP coverage, but it does have increased requirements for liability coverage:
- $125,000 minimum death and bodily injury liability coverage per person
- $250,000 minimum death and bodily injury liability coverage per incident
- $50,000 minimum property damage liability (PDL) coverage per incident
Florida law permits taxi companies that own at least 300 vehicles to self-insure up to a maximum of $300,000.
What Should I Do After a Taxi Accident in Florida?
- Seek immediate medical care. Any injuries that you sustain as a passenger in a taxi accident need to be documented for insurance companies, your lawyer, and the court if you file a personal injury lawsuit. This documentation prevents liable parties from arguing that the taxi accident didn’t cause your injuries. Immediately following the accident, safety is of the utmost importance. If emergency services or law enforcement haven’t arrived, you need to call for them as soon as possible. If an ambulance does not transport you to a hospital, make sure to seek medical care immediately.
- Gather information. If you are physically able, you need to gather as much information at the scene of the accident as possible. Most of the relevant information will be contained in a police report, but it’s in your best interest to record what you can in case the police miss something. Get the name, taxi company, vehicle number, and insurance information of your taxi driver. You should also get names, addresses, license plates, and insurance information of any other drivers or passengers involved in the accident. This provides your attorney information on where to begin the claims process and potential witnesses to contact to support your case.
- Take photos at the scene of the accident. If you are physically able, use your cell phone to take pictures of any property damage, visible injuries, or hazards that might have led to the accident. This photographic evidence will help your attorney provide proof of the at-fault driver’s negligence and serve as another layer of evidence concerning your injuries.
- Report your accident. You need to report your accident to law enforcement if one of the other drivers hasn’t done so. If you are riding in a cab owned by a taxi company, you should also report the accident to the company. Finally, you may also choose to file a claim under your own personal injury protection (PIP) policy, which also covers you as a passenger in a vehicle.
- Contact an attorney. Taxi accidents often involve multiple parties and insurance carriers. As a passenger who sustained an injury, you may experience that the insurance carriers that represent each driver will fight over liability, which may result in a denial of your claim. Additionally, with multiple drivers and victims involved, insurance policy limits often run out before everyone gets fairly compensated for their losses. A seasoned attorney will advocate for you and fight to get you compensation for the full cost of your injuries.
Can I Recover Damages After a Florida Taxi Accident?
If you sustained injuries as a passenger in a taxi accident, you may be eligible to seek compensation for losses related to your injuries. Before you file a personal injury lawsuit, however, you need to go through the insurance claims process. This typically begins with you filing a claim with your PIP carrier. In Florida, PIP covers 80 percent of your medical costs and 60 percent of lost employment income. After meeting the limits of your policy, filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance policy is often the next step.
If the at-fault driver was your taxi driver, filing an insurance claim with their carrier might involve a taxi company. Taxi accident claims are layered and complex because many parties are typically involved. Even if you don’t file a personal injury lawsuit, you should hire an experienced lawyer to guide you through the claims process, advocate for you, and advise you on when or if to elevate an insurance claim to a lawsuit.
If you or a loved one has sustained a severe or catastrophic injury, filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages is likely. These types of injuries often exceed insurance policy limits, and they do not cover non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering or scarring and disfigurement. After sustaining an injury in a taxi accident in Florida, you may be eligible to recover the following damages:
- Medical costs that haven’t been paid by your PIP insurance or the other drivers’ insurance carrier. These expenses include, but are not limited to, emergency services, ambulance rides, hospitalization, radiology, surgery, prescription medication, and more.
- Future medical costs when the taxi accident causes permanent disability or severe injuries that require multiple surgeries or a lengthy recovery time, including rehabilitation services, such as physical therapy and assistive devices, such as wheelchairs or canes
- Lost wages for time away from your job that wasn’t covered by PIP insurance or another policy
- Future lost wages for a long-term disability that prohibits a victim from returning to work or requires them to change professions
- Non-economic damages for pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, and more
If a loved one has died in a taxi accident, you need to contact a lawyer immediately to discuss your eligibility to file a wrongful death suit to recover damages, including funeral expenses and burial costs.
Contact the Dolman Law Group in New Port Richey Today
Being involved in a taxi accident is a traumatic experience, particularly when that accident results in serious injury and was preventable if not for the negligence of your taxi driver or another motorist. The compassionate attorneys at the Dolman Law Group understand the physical pain, emotional stress, and financial hardship that often accompanies a severe injury, so we handle accident cases on contingency, collecting attorney fees from any compensation that we secure for you.
Under Florida law, you have four years to take legal action after being injured in a taxi accident; in the case that you lost a loved one, the statute of limitations is only two years. You deserve compensation for the full cost of your injuries as a passenger in a taxi accident. Call the Dolman Law Group in New Port Richey at (727) 853-6275, or contact us online, to schedule a free consultation before your time to discuss the details of your taxi accident runs out. Our legal team will aggressively pursue the best possible outcome for your situation. Let us investigate your case and handle all communications with insurance companies so that you can focus on your recovery.
Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL, 34652