February 17, 2022
New York City Taxicab Accidents: Liability & Your Options
By Jonathan Damashek
The city’s taxicabs face fierce competition from ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, but there are still thousands of cabs on the streets. Given how often they’re used, it should come as no surprise there are hundreds of NYC taxi accidents every month.
If you’re hurt, you should understand how the law treats taxicab accidents and your eligibility for recovering compensation.
Taxi Accidents in New York City
According to New York City, there are 13,587 licensed taxis in New York City, but they’re not all in service at the same time. A lack of drivers and competition from Uber and Lyft sidelines thousands of cabs. According to The City, Yellow Cab had 6,218 taxis on the road last September, according to The City.
There were an average of 819 accidents involving New York City taxis and other for-hire vehicles per month in 2019, reports the city’s Taxi & Limousine Commission. They were also 32 accidents causing severe injuries or deaths that same year.
Recent Accidents Involving Taxis
Cab accidents are as varied as the New York traffic:
- In July, at least one person was hospitalized after a cab was pushed onto the sidewalk, through a glass bus stop, and into an Upper East Side Japanese restaurant. Witnesses say the taxi stopped to avoid hitting a vehicle in front of it, then was rear-ended by an SUV. A restaurant employee was hospitalized after the accident, according to WCBS.
- Republican mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa was struck by a cab on October 29, four days before the election, near Rockefeller Center. He was running across the street when he was hit by the taxi, suffering a broken arm and a minor concussion, according to WABC.
- Two people were taken to the hospital, the cab driver and the passenger, after the taxi flipped over on its roof in Midtown Manhattan in 2017. Police report it was traveling down Fifth Avenue, side-swiped another cab, hit a guardrail, then overturned, according to WABC.
Not all cab drivers cause accidents. They may be injured in a crash through no fault of their own, just like you.
Taxi Driver or Taxi Company Liability
You may be injured by a taxi as a passenger, a pedestrian, a bicyclist, a motorcyclist, or an occupant in another vehicle. The process of getting compensation for those injuries is mostly the same as if you were injured in another car, with a couple of differences because the driver may be paid by someone else to drive a vehicle they don’t own.
These are negligence cases where the plaintiff, the injured party, must show the defendant, a party who may be responsible, acted negligently and caused your injuries. That’s proven when the plaintiff shows:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty to act reasonably and provide a safe ride
- That duty was violated, whether that was by speeding, driving recklessly, or the cab wasn’t adequately maintained
- That breach is the legal and factual cause of the accident and your injuries
- Under New York law, the defendant must compensate you for the harm you suffered
The responsible parties could be:
- The Driver: If the driver acts negligently and is at least partially responsible for your injuries, a claim can be filed against their insurance carrier. If the two sides can’t agree to a settlement, the case may go to court. The driver may or may not be the medallion owner and own the taxi
- The Taxi Owner: Someone other than the driver, whether an individual or a company, may own the vehicle and hired the driver who caused the accident. The owner may be responsible if they failed to properly screen drivers and hired someone with a history of accidents and they caused the crash. If a mechanical problem caused by the owner’s poor vehicle maintenance started the accident, it could also be held responsible
- The Manufacturer: If the accident was caused by a defective part, like the brakes or tires, it makes the manufacturer and all those involved in selling and distributing it potentially liable
Taxicab Insurance Coverage
Insurance coverage usually pays for the defendant’s legal defense, the potential settlement, and any resulting jury verdict, as long as the accident is a covered risk, up to the policy limits. Depending on the circumstances, you may get a party to pay damages from their own resources after the insurance coverage is exhausted.
Typically, those injured in taxi accidents file claims against the responsible parties, who have insurance. The plaintiff and insurance company usually agree to a figure and resolve the claim. If not, a lawsuit is filed, negotiations continue, and the case normally settles before a trial. If the two sides can’t reach an agreement, the case goes to trial, and a jury decides the outcome.
New York taxicabs must carry no-fault insurance, which pays out to parties no matter who caused the accident. If you suffered minor injuries, the limit on this coverage might be enough. If not, you can seek recovery from the party’s liability insurance. That party could be the driver, the party owning the cab, and anyone else playing a role in causing the accident.
Licensed taxi services in New York City must carry at least $100,000 in liability insurance for one person and $300,000 to cover all those injured in an accident. If you use an unlicensed or gypsy cab, their insurance may be as low as $25,000 for one person and $50,000 for all those hurt in an accident.
What If I’m Injured in a New York City Taxi Accident?
If possible, try to get the taxi driver’s medallion number. This information is found on the taxi receipt, the side of the cab, or the partition and will make identifying the driver easier later. But your priority after an accident should always be getting medical attention. Next, you should contact an attorney to discuss a possible claim. An experienced lawyer can assist with all the documentation, evidence gathering, and other aspects of securing compensation.
Call Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. for a free, no-risk consultation at 212-490-5700 or use our online form. We will discuss what happened, explain all your options after a taxicab accident, and offer clear guidance for any next steps.