Throughout the cities of New York, particularly New York City individuals rely on taxicabs to transport them to work, special events, or even the airport. The presence of taxis is a common sight on New York roadways.
Unfortunately, passengers in taxis risk becoming injured if a careless driver collides with the vehicle they’re riding in and if their taxicab driver makes careless errors that can result in an accident with another car. Likewise, other people on the roadway are also at risk of injury due to a negligent taxi driver.
While many scenarios can result in a New York taxi accident, seeking compensation for the financial and psychological impacts of the injury is largely the same as other types of motor vehicle accidents. Here is a look at how to file a taxicab injury lawsuit in New York and the other options that are available for individuals injured in a taxi accident. Contacting a New York car accident lawyer should be the first thing you do following any motor vehicle accident.
How Prevalent are New York Taxi Accidents?
Passengers take more than one million trips in taxicabs daily in New York City alone, while many cities across the state also have taxi services available. Taxis in New York City are involved in more than 800 injury crashes every month, with around 40 crashes featuring serious injuries or fatalities each year.
The Options for Seeking Compensation After a New York Taxi Accident
There are three options for seeking compensation after a New York taxi accident: Filing a claim against a personal injury protection policy, filing a claim against an at-fault driver’s (or taxi cab’s) auto liability insurance policy, or filing a personal injury lawsuit. However, it is important to understand that these options aren’t available for everyone and are dependent on how the accident occurred and several other factors.
The Injured Party’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Policy
Drivers of motor vehicles in New York must purchase a personal injury protection (PIP) insurance policy of at least $50,000 to legally drive on the state’s roads. This policy covers medical expenses related to the injuries incurred in the accident and up to 80 percent of the injured party’s wage loss related to their injury. The policy also provides a $2,000 death benefit for the estate of the insured or members of their household.
This coverage extends to other types of accidents, including pedestrian or bicycle accidents, as well as accidents incurred by the insured or their household members while riding in a taxi. PIP policies are commonly referred to as “no-fault insurance” as they will generally cover injury-related accident expenses, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
Individuals who have a PIP policy or live in a household where someone has this coverage can obtain compensation for medical treatment and wage loss related to their injuries sustained in a taxi accident.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim Against the Liable Party’s Insurance Provider
The word liability refers to the legal responsibility that an individual has for causing harm to another. There are many ways taxi accidents can occur, and the source of liability depends on the facts of the claim.
Some of the potential sources of liability in New York taxicab accidents include:
- The taxicab company that employed the driver, if the accident resulted from the taxi driver’s negligence. Taxi companies are responsible for hiring the driver, ensuring that they’re qualified for the position, checking their driver record, providing maintenance of the vehicle, and carrying insurance on it.
- The driver of another vehicle, whose negligence led to an accident involving a taxi.
- The manufacturer of faulty parts on any of the vehicles that caused the accident.
Because of New York’s no-fault insurance requirement, those injured in motor vehicle accidents must first seek compensation from their PIP policy. Because taxi passengers do not necessarily have a vehicle registered in New York and therefore do not have a PIP policy, they can file a personal injury claim.
Additionally, even if someone injured has a PIP policy, they are permitted to file a claim against the at-fault party’s insurer if their expenses exceed the limit of their PIP policy or if their injury meets the state’s serious injury threshold.
The serious injury threshold in New York includes injuries that result in death, dismemberment, significant disfigurement, loss of a fetus, bone fracture, or permanent loss or limitation of a body organ or member.
The serious injury threshold also includes non-permanent injuries that result in a substantial loss of the ability to perform the tasks of daily living for at least 90 of the 180 days immediately following the accident.
Unlike the provisions of the PIP policy, which cover accidents regardless of fault, to be eligible to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party’s auto liability insurance policy, if you were a driver or a passenger of another vehicle who was injured as a result of a negligent taxi driver, you must be able to prove that the taxi company was liable for the accident as a result of their driver’s actions.
Individuals who file a personal injury claim can seek compensation for an expanded list of expenses and impacts, including:
- Expenses related to the medical treatment of the injury.
- Lost wages for the period in which the claimant was too injured to work.
- Loss of future earning capacity resulting from permanent disabilities incurred in the accident.
- The cost of repairing or replacing personal property damaged in the accident, such as the vehicle the claimant was driving when they became involved in an accident with a taxicab.
- The quality-of-life impacts that the claimant experienced as a result of the injury, such as physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, or loss of enjoyment of life.
The Process of a New York Taxicab Lawsuit
While settlements are the most common resolution to New York taxicab claims, filing the claim as a lawsuit within the state’s three-year statute of limitations is of utmost importance to receiving compensation through either a settlement or a court award. It should be noted that a settlement can be offered and accepted at any time during the claim, even after a lawsuit has been filed and a trial has begun, provided a jury has not yet rendered a decision on the matter.
The process of a New York taxicab lawsuit includes:
- The claimant’s attorney files a Summons and Complaint. The complaint is the legal document commonly referred to as the “lawsuit” that explains the general details of the accident, including the date and place where it occurred. The complaint is filed with the court and also served to the liable party and their insurance provider.
- The defendant has 30 days to respond to the summons and complaint, known as an Answer. Once the claimant’s attorney receives the answer, they prepare the Bill of Particulars. This document provides greater detail not only of the accident but also of the expenses and impacts that were incurred, along with associated evidence of those costs, such as medical or vehicle repair bills.
- A preliminary hearing is held where the attorneys for both sides schedule document production and witness depositions, and the court can order an independent medical exam of the claimant’s injuries.
- Discovery is the process in which each side of the matter exchanges information with the other, such as evidence and the names of witnesses and experts they plan to call on in court.
- Jury selection is also participated in by the legal counsel for both sides. Six jurors and two alternates will be seated to hear the claim.
- Litigation typically occurs in two phases. In the first phase, the jury will determine if the defendant was liable for the injuries sustained by the claimant in a taxicab accident. If the defendant is liable, the jury will determine how much is owed to the claimant.
Hiring an Attorney to Assist You With Your Claim
Personal injury claimants, including those injured in taxi accidents, are often hesitant to hire an attorney to help them with the claims process because they don’t think they can afford one. However, personal injury lawyers work on a contingent fee basis, which means the claimant doesn’t have to pay for their attorney’s services unless there is a positive resolution to the claim.
The contingent fee is set at the start of the claims process when the attorney and client enter into a contingent fee agreement. This agreement notes the services that will be provided to the claimant and specifies a percentage of the compensation received for the claim to be provided to the attorney as payment.
At the resolution of the claim, the attorney receives the compensatory award on behalf of their client, places the funds in a trust, and then goes to work to settle any medical liens placed on the award. After that, they deduct the agreed-upon percentage for their payment and forward the remainder of the compensation to the claimant.
The Services Your New York Taxi Accident Attorney Can Provide
A New York taxicab accident injury attorney can provide the claimant with:
- A free, no-obligation case evaluation where the claimant can learn about the legal options and an attorney’s role in assisting them with their claim.
- A determination of who was liable for the accident and the liability insurance policy they hold that can compensate the claimant.
- Communicating with the insurance provider about the claim and negotiating a settlement.
- Filing a lawsuit in court within New York’s three-year statute of limitations.
- Preparing the case for court, including attending all pre-conference hearings, depositions, jury selection, and other meetings involved.
- Presenting the case in court.
- Assisting the claimant in obtaining compensation through the settlement agreement or court order.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.