If your taxi crashes, is the taxi driver liable?

Written on behalf of Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

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When you think about it, every time you get into a taxi or ride share you are entrusting your personal safety to an unfamiliar driver. While California and federal regulations on taxi drivers maintain that they must have a safe driving record and impeccable driving habits, accidents still happen – sometimes catastrophic. If you are injured as a passenger in a taxi, is the driver of the taxi liable for your losses and damages?

Not exactly. In fact, according California’s laws regarding transportation companies and insurance, it is not possible to pursue a claim via the driver’s insurance company in the event of personal injury. During the hours that the driver is on shift, their private auto insurance is essentially invalid and is instead superseded by the specific insurance policy taken out by the taxi driver’s employer, which is generally the taxi company that often owns the vehicle. As long as they are on company hours, they are covered by company insurance, and it is company insurance that would cover your damages in the event of a personal injury suit.

Only in a few instances would the driver be held accountable, usually in a wrongful death suit in which it was determined driver negligence led to the accident and subsequent death of the passenger(s) or other driver(s) involved in the accident. Such a case might actually be tried as negligent homicide or vehicular manslaughter rather than a suit for damages.

This information is only intended to be used as a reference and should not be taken as actionable legal advice.

Jeffrey R. Smith

Jeffrey R. Smith

Managing Partner

Robert B. Waldsmith

Robert J. Waldsmith

Partner, 1999

William B. Smith

William B. Smith

Partner, 1978

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