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Hurt in Houston- Taxi Accidents
Have you been injured in a taxi accident? Getting the right amount of compensation can be complicated. Who can recover in a taxi accident? It depends on the circumstances. Passengers, other drivers, taxi drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists may all have claims.
Ideally, taxi cab drivers are safe and insured. Their cabs are well-maintained vehicles. That is not always the case. Plus, even the most careful drivers can have accidents. If an accident happens, it is crucial to understand who is responsible for the costs.
In Texas, we use comparative negligence to determine fault. Fault decides who pays for an accident. If someone is partially responsible for the injury, it could reduce their damage amount. That modified form of comparative negligence is also called proportionate responsibility.
Finding out who was most at fault is the key to determining who pays for the accident.
Taxi accidents often involve many parties
- Taxi driver
- Other drivers
- Taxi passenger
Additional parties can be involved. There may be more than two vehicles in an accident. Other drivers may have passengers. However, those are the three main parties to consider in a taxi accident.
Why Taxi Accidents Are Different from Other Accidents
Taxi accidents are different from other accidents. Taxi drivers are paid to transport people. So, they are common carriers. In Texas, common carriers have a heightened duty of care. They are supposed to be more careful than other drivers. It may be easier to establish a negligence claim against a taxi driver than against other drivers.
What You Should Do After a Taxi Accident?
Drivers in accidents usually exchange
- Insurance information
- Contact information
In a taxi accident, there may be other parties. Whether you are one of the drivers, the passenger in the taxi, a passenger in another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a cyclist, you can still take steps to protect yourself. You should take these steps, even if the taxi driver or other drivers say they are handling things.
- Contact the police, fire, or EMS
- Document the scene
- Take photos of the accident site
- Take photos of damages to any vehicles
- If you have injuries, document them
- Take pictures of the surrounding area
- Document anything notable about the location or conditions
- Get names and contact information for everyone involved in the accident
- Get names and contact information for any witnesses that are present
- Seek medical care
If you are hurt, you may be unable to take these steps. That is okay. Do not put yourself or anyone else at risk of further harm. However, if you can safely gather information, you should. The more information you have, the better.
With the cost of healthcare, many people are scared to seek treatment. However, even severe injuries may initially seem minor. That is especially true for head injuries. The best solution is to go to the ER in an ambulance. However, if you did not get help at the time of the accident, it is not too late. You should still follow up with your doctor. If you do not have access to healthcare, we may be able to help you find affordable care.
An important aspect of a lawyer’s job is developing and managing relationships with clients (or the client’s employees, if the lawyer works in-house for a government or corporation).
The client-lawyer relationship is explained in six steps. First, the relationship begins with an intake interview where the lawyer gets to know the client personally. The second step is discovering the facts of the client’s case. Thirdly is clarifying what the client wants to accomplish. The fourth step is where the lawyer shapes the client’s expectations.
You are unlikely to be at fault if you are a taxi passenger. However, that is not always true.
In some circumstances, a passenger can be held liable in a car accident.
- Taking control of maneuverable parts of the car
- Steering wheel
- Gas pedal
- Encouraging an unfit driver to drive
- Incapacitating the driver
Encouraging an unfit driver is not likely to apply to a taxi passenger. You assume a taxi driver is fit. You will not have enough knowledge to determine if they fit when entering the vehicle.
However, the other two could apply. You can share the blame if you do something to hinder the driver, like covering the driver’s eyes. Likewise, you could be at fault if you do something to control the car, like grabbing the steering wheel. However, to share responsibility, a passenger’s behavior must be well outside of typical passenger behavior.
As a passenger, you may have to claim against multiple people to recover fully. Remember what we said about Texas being a comparative negligence state? That means that each driver may only be responsible for some percentage of your claim.
To fully recover, you may need to make claims against the
- Taxi company
- Taxi driver
- Other driver(s) involved in the accident
You may also find yourself a witness in other suits. In multi-party accidents, the drivers and other passengers may file crossclaims. All of these different cases and claims may need to be resolved before your claim can be resolved.
In other words, litigation can get complicated.
When You Should Contact an Attorney
Some personal injury lawyers will tell you to contact an attorney after every accident. That is not advice that we give. Suppose you were a passenger in a taxi that had a fender bender with no injuries. In that case, there is probably no reason to get an attorney.
That said, there is no downside to scheduling a consultation with us. During a consultation, we discuss the circumstances of an accident, what injuries you suffered, and whether the taxi company, the taxi driver or the other driver(s) have made any compensation offers. Our consultations are no obligation, so you can find out if you have a case before deciding whether or not to hire us.
You definitely want to consult with an attorney if you believe the driver or the taxi company were negligent or reckless.
Did you notice the driver engaging in risky driving behavior? Some things to consider are
- Was the driver on a cell phone while driving?
- Was the driver texting?
- Did the driver run red lights?
- Was the driver speeding?
- Did the driver change lanes frequently or without signaling?
- Did the driver tailgate other cars?
- Did the driver appear under the influence of alcohol or drugs?
Did the taxi company contribute to the accident?
- Did the taxi seem well-maintained?
- Were seat belts available?
- Was the driver wearing a seatbelt?
- Did the driver have a history of accidents or tickets?
What Your Attorney Investigates
One of the first things we will examine is fault. Who was responsible for the accident?
We might look at
- Taxi companies
- Taxi drivers
- Other drivers
- Government agencies
Taxi drivers are often responsible for taxi accidents. They may drive negligently or recklessly, especially since they have a heightened standard of care as common carriers. However, not all taxi accidents are due to taxi driver negligence.
Sometimes, the cab company is at fault.
Taxi drivers are either employees or independent contractors. If a taxi driver is an independent contractor, the taxi company is not usually responsible for the driver’s behavior.
If the taxi driver is an employee, the taxi company is responsible for hiring, supervising, and training the driver. The company might be liable if the company’s error contributed to the driver’s negligence.
In addition, taxi companies are responsible for providing safe vehicles for their passengers. Some independent contractors own their cars. However, if the taxi company owns the vehicle, it might be responsible for failing to provide a safe car.
For company-owned vehicles, the taxi company is accountable for
- Purchasing safe vehicles
- Doing routine maintenance and inspections,
- Fixing any hazardous conditions
Other drivers may be at fault in taxi accidents. They could cause the accident through negligent, reckless, or illegal behavior.
However, you may not know who is at fault at the time of the accident. As a passenger, you may not have seen what led to the accident. In those cases, we need to investigate.
Do not worry if you did not get the other drivers’ information at the scene of the accident. We can start by filing a claim against the taxi driver or the taxi company. Through the discovery process, we can get access to other driver information. We can add other parties to a claim as we gain more knowledge.
You might not think taxi accidents involve non-drivers, but pedestrians and cyclists cause some wrecks. You may have heard that pedestrians always have the right of way. However, that is not true. If pedestrians break the law, they can be responsible for an accident. Bicyclists are supposed to follow the same road rules as other vehicles. So, there may be non-drivers involved in your lawsuit.
Finally, taxi drivers drive on government-maintained roads. If a road is hazardous or defective, the government agency responsible for its upkeep may share liability for the accident.
While most taxi passengers are not responsible for the accident, you could be responsible for some of your injuries. Not wearing a seatbelt could impact how much you can recover in your claim.
Failure to wear a seat belt can result in more severe injuries. It also increases the likelihood of fatalities. So, not wearing a seatbelt could make you responsible for some of your injuries, but probably not for the accident.
In Texas, comparative negligence means that your damages could be decreased by the percentage of fault. If not wearing a seatbelt contributed to your injuries, that would reduce your damage award. However, as long as you are not 51% or more responsible for your injuries, you are still entitled to compensation.
Always wearing your seatbelt is the safest thing to do. Some taxi drivers may tell you it is okay to skip the seatbelt. However, seatbelts reduce your chance of getting seriously injured in an accident. They can also increase your recovery if you are injured. So, wear your safety belts, even in taxis!
Recently, the news has featured several celebrities who were not wearing seat belts in serious common carrier accidents.
- CBS correspondent Bob Simon
- Nobel Prize winner John Nash and his wife
- Comedian Tracy Morgan
You may have heard of their cases. They were all severely injured or killed. Not all of their claims have settled, but Morgan was still able to recover from the limo driver in his accident.
While it is possible that not wearing a seatbelt will reduce your claim amount, it is unlikely to keep you from getting any compensation. Contact us, even if you were not wearing a seat belt during your accident.
If you are a taxi driver involved in an accident, you should have insurance that includes legal representation.
The taxi company should provide coverage for you and the vehicle if you are an employee. As long as you are lawfully engaged in your duties at the time of the accident, the coverage should be valid. However, the insurer may refuse coverage if they suspect intentional wrongdoing on your part. An example of deliberate wrongdoing is driving under the influence.
As an independent contractor, you should have all the required insurance for a taxi driver in Texas. That includes
- Personal injury
You are also responsible for the maintenance and service of your vehicle. That includes inspections, repairs, scheduled maintenance, and safety recalls.
- Do not drive your vehicle if it needs repair.
- Do not drive if you are unfit to drive. Some conditions that can make it unsafe for you to drive include
- Being overtired
- Taking medication,
- Weather conditions
- Do not take cell phone calls or make texts while you are driving.
- Do not drive while you are intoxicated.
If you are in an accident, you should notify your company and emergency services. However, do not admit fault, even if you believe you are at fault.
Why do we tell drivers not to admit fault if they think they are at fault? Car accidents take place very quickly. Many things happen at once. You may perceive that you are at fault when an investigation reveals that the other driver caused the accident. However, it is difficult to walk back statements like, “it was all my fault.” You can honestly participate in the accident investigation by stating what you were doing and what you observed the other parties doing without admitting fault.
What To Do If You Think You Were Reckless or Negligent
If you know you were reckless or negligent, you may have more significant worries than civil lawsuits. If you were intentionally breaking the law, you might face criminal liability. You should contact your own attorney, not one provided by your insurance company if you know your behavior contributed to the accident. Examples of that include things like
- Driving under the influence
- Excessive speeding
- Hitting a pedestrian who had the right-of-way
While we are not a criminal law firm, we can help determine whether you need criminal representation.
Other Drivers, Pedestrians, or Cyclists
If you were involved in an accident with a taxi, it is not enough to get the name and license information of the driver. You want to get the following information
- Taxi number- Taxis have numbers assigned to them, which you can usually find on the trunk or rear fender and the front bumper.
- License plate number
- Name of the driver
- Driver’s taxi license number
- Driver’s driver’s license information
- Taxi company’s name and phone number
- The names and contact information of any passengers in the cab
- The names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident
It is important to remember that taxi cabs are common carriers. That means they have an increased duty of care. The duty of care extends to other people on the roads, not just their passengers. In addition, the taxi cab company may share liability for the accident.
Taxi cab accidents can be complex, with multiple parties, making it difficult to get the compensation you deserve. The Salazar Law Firm can help. Contact us to set up a free no-obligation consultation. We can review your case and tell you whether we believe you have a claim.