Taxi-cab service plays a vital role in the culture and lifestyle of large metropolitan areas. With the common notion of “time is money,” one can easily imagine taxicab drivers zipping and speeding through crowded streets to make their next dollar.
But it is not uncommon for auto accidents to occur under such circumstances.
The Pennsylvania Code requires taxicabs to be licensed by the Public Utility Commission (PUC), charge fees approved by the PUC, and adhere to the Commission’s driver and vehicle safety regulations. The PUC further requires taxicabs to maintain adequate insurance coverage. Insurance coverage is monitored by the PUC on yearly basis to ensure compliance. Unfortunately, hundreds of people are injured in taxicab related accidents, and left with large medical bills and traumatic injuries that are not covered by the insurance. We must ask, what is adequate insurance coverage?
Insurance Cover: The Current Law
Section 32.11, entitled Insurance Requirement, of the Pennsylvania Code details what type of passenger carrier insurance is needed to operate a taxi in Pennsylvania. The Code provides that in order for a common carrier of passengers (i.e. taxicab) to obtain a permit, proof of insurance by way of a certificate by an insurer authorized to do business in the Commonwealth must be filed and approved with the PUC. The insurance must provide monetary payment to anyone injured while in the taxicab. At a minimum, the insurance must carry a $35,000 policy to cover liability for bodily injury, death or property damage. The Code further provides that the $35,000 minimum coverage is split coverage in the amounts of $15,000 bodily injury per person, $30,000 bodily injury per accident, and $5,000 property damage per accident. The insurance should also cover $25,000 in first party medical benefits and $10,000 in first party wage loss benefits.
PA Insurance Coverage Compared to Other States
In comparison to other states, Pennsylvania lags behind. Other states like New York, Illinois, and Texas require a minimum insurance coverage of $100,000, $350,000 and $500,000, respectively. In order to protect the general public from bodily injury, taxicabs should be required to carry higher insurance coverage. The cost of victim’s related medical bills and loss benefits can total more than $50,000 and sometimes more. The requirement of minimal insurance coverage clearly does not cover the compensation needed for a person’s injuries. Since it has proven difficult to claim compensation through insurance coverage, the next question is whether you can collect from the negligent driver or taxi company?
Liability: Taxicab Driver or Taxi Company
For many states, this has proven to be a difficult task. Most of the time taxicab drivers are independent contractors, rather than employees of the taxicab company. And, under the doctrine of vicarious liability, such a set up allows the taxi company to avoid liability if the driver acts negligently. Instead of being an employee, the taxicab driver essentially leases or rents the cab through the company, who obtains the actual permit from the state.
Current laws allow taxis to carry the minimal coverage that grossly limits the cover available for medical injuries. Furthermore, the difficult task of pulling back the layers of liability to the parent taxicab company seems unjust. Advocacy groups urge for better legislation that will protect consumers and hold taxi cab driver and companies accountable for negligent acts.
Taxicab accidents and related laws can be complex. If you or a loved one has been injured in a taxicab accident,or any other auto accident, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys. The attorneys of Solnick & Associates will counsel and represent you to get the best compensation for your injuries. Call us now at (215) 481-9979 or contact us online.