There are approximately 50,000 vehicles and 100,000 drivers who are licensed and regulated by the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission with about 240 million passengers being transported throughout the five boroughs annually. There are yellow medallion taxis/cabs, livery cars, gypsy cabs, airport shuttles, limousines and other various vehicles for-hire.
It is no surprise that accidents involving for-hire vehicles occur often, considering the fact that taxi and cab drivers engage in aggressive driving in order to maximize the number of cab fares in their vehicles on a daily basis. Unfortunately, operators of cabs, taxis and other for-hire vehicles usually try to work the maximum amount of hours allowed, regardless of their current level of stamina and awareness. As a result, they often become fatigued, tired and less cognizant of everything they need to be aware of around them while driving throughout the streets and highways in and surrounding the metropolitan area. Therefore, the lack of concentration or awareness can often lead to negligence on the part of these drivers. This negligence puts not only the passengers inside the taxis/cabs and other for-hire vehicles at risk for injury, but also pedestrians who may be standing or crossing in the street, not to mention other motorists and occupants in other vehicles as well.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a taxi/livery/limousine accident and sustained injuries or someone close to you has died in a taxi or other vehicle for-hire accident, call the Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C. for a free initial consultation regarding your legal rights in order to obtain full and fair compensation and damages due to your harms and losses.
Common Causes of For-Hire Motor Vehicle Accidents
With people traveling to and from work and other destinations daily, and tourists as well as others visiting New York City every day, the potential for accident and injuries ranging from minor to severe is high on the public streets and highways in and surrounding the greater metropolitan area. Some common causes of accidents involving all of New York City taxis, cabs, limousines and other livery car services include:
- Driver negligence, distraction, and/or fatigue;
- Unqualified or inexperienced drivers;
- Improper cell phone use;
- Unsafe and/or illegal lane changes;
- Failure to yield;
- DUI (Driving Under the Influence)/DWI (Driving While Intoxicated);
- Traveling at unsafe speeds;
- Failure to obey traffic laws and signs;
- Mechanical malfunctions and defective equipment;
- Hazardous road conditions; and
- Improper highway maintenance.
Insurance Coverage Requirements for Taxi/Livery/Limousine and Other For-Hire Vehicles in New York City
New York State law requires that owners of all motor vehicles operating in New York must maintain a minimum amount of $25,000.00/$50,000.00 liability coverage on their vehicles in order to protect injured victims of motor vehicle accidents. However, the City of New York (covering Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Staten Island) requires through its New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission, which governs taxis/cabs/liveries/limousines and other for-hire vehicles which operate in the City of New York, to maintain a minimum of $100,00.00/$300,000.00 in liability insurance coverage. What this means is that with respect to livery or for-hire vehicles (e.g., taxi, cab, livery, limousine) licensed to operate in the City of New York, the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission requires that each owner of such a vehicle must maintain bodily injury liability insurance coverage to cover one person injured in a motor vehicle accident in an amount not less than $100,000.00 per person and for injury to two or more persons in an amount not less than $300,000.00. These minimum requirements can be met by either a single insurance policy providing the required limits on a primary basis or by means of an excess policy which, in combination with a primary policy, provides the required limits.
Gypsy/Unlicensed New York City Cabs
Unfortunately, while the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission regulates cars for-hire in the City of New York, there remain many unlicensed cabs that continue in operation throughout the City of New York. Although many of these unauthorized vehicles do have markings on them, they are likely unlicensed and not authorized for use by the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission. They are sometimes referred to as “gypsy cabs”. Some of these gypsy cabs are also being driven by private individuals who are utilizing their own vehicles in order to provide unauthorized taxi-like services. These unlicensed cabs are found more often in the outer boroughs outside of Manhattan where they cruise the streets looking for people to flag them down for a ride. There is usually no meter in these vehicles and a price is agreed upon when the individual enters the vehicle. Unfortunately, if there is an accident involving an unlicensed gypsy or other livery cab, there may only be available to a victim the maximum liability coverage of $25,000.00/$50,000.00 under an insurance policy for injuries and other damages sustained in a motor vehicle accident. The reason for this is that these vehicles which are not operating pursuant to the New York Taxi & Limousine Commission only need to have the same minimum motor vehicle liability coverage required for any other driver of any other motor vehicle in the State of New York, which is the $25,000.00/$50,000.00 minimum limits. Therefore, it is important to utilize only licensed cabs or other for-hire cars on the streets throughout the City of New York.
Coverage for Medical Expenses, Lost Earnings and Other Reasonable Expenses
As a victim involved in a for-hire motor vehicle accident, whether as a result of being in a yellow cab, livery car, limousine or other for-hire vehicle, there are laws within the State of New York commonly referred to as “No-Fault” law which provide mandatory benefits for victims of motor vehicle accidents resulting in coverage for your health care expenses, lost earnings and other reasonable expenses relating to a motor vehicle accident as defined by the Insurance Law of the State of New York.
This coverage is known as “Basic Economic Loss” and is available usually up to $50,000.00 per person. This coverage that is available under the No-Fault law has nothing to do with your ability to sue all responsible parties in a court of law for monetary damages to compensate you for your pain and suffering and any permanent injuries you sustained. The purpose of No-Fault coverage is to provide you with monies to cover medical bills and costs, lost wages and other reasonable expenses shortly after an accident. Once again, this coverage has nothing to do with obtaining monetary compensation for your pain, suffering and the result of your injuries which can result in long-term damage requiring significant compensation to be paid by those responsible for the accident. For a more detailed explanation concerning No-Fault benefits which arise due to an accident with any type of motor vehicle, please visit our separate website content entitled HOW ARE MEDICAL/HEALTH EXPENSES, LOST EARNINGS AND OTHER EXPENSES COVERED AS A RESULT OF A MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT?
What Needs to Be Proven in Order to Recover Monetary Damages for Pain and Suffering in a For-Hire Motor Vehicle Accident?
Irrespective of any right you have to receive coverage for your medical expenses and other coverage described as “Basic Economic Loss” above under No-Fault, the law in New York State requires you to prove that you have sustained a “serious injury” (a legal definition) before you can collect money damages in a lawsuit for pain, suffering and the debilitating effects of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. In this regard, the State of New York through statute(s) enacted by legislation and case law (Court decisions) has made clear that it intends to strictly enforce the threshold for serious injury so as to limit the number of lawsuits involving motor vehicle accidents. Obviously, the intent is to keep minor personal injury cases out of Court.
Our law offices have fought and will continue to fight to protect all of the rights of the victims we represent in order to pursue damages for pain and suffering and the full extent of our client’s injuries. It is for this reason that we urge all of our clients to make sure that proper care and treatment is received from the onset of any complaints or symptoms and that all injuries including any symptoms and complaints are fully documented by any treating health care provider from the inception of treatment.
The number, frequency and duration of your treatments will certainly have an impact on your ability to meet the threshold for a serious injury in the State of New York.
‘5102(d) of the New York State Insurance Law defines 8 standards in order to meet the “serious injury” threshold. Therefore, in order to pursue a lawsuit for “non-economic loss” (pain and suffering) a person must satisfy at least one (1) of the following definitions:
- Personal injury which results in death;
- Dismemberment or significant disfigurement;
- Loss of a fetus;
- Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system;
- Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member;
VII. Significant limitation of use of a body function or system; or
VIII. A medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such persons’ usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety (90) days during the one hundred eighty (180) days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.
You will notice that the law defines items 1-4 clearly and makes those items relatively easy to determine. However, items 5-8 leave room for debate and argument. In many cases, the ability of a person to meet the serious injury standard depends on meeting one of the requirements listed in items 5-8.
Obviously, talking to our office will help you comprehend these definitions with more clarity. Unfortunately, the Courts have made determinations and given rulings which further define these definitions through a process known as “case law”. In this regard, proving that you have suffered a serious injury in the eyes of the Court requires your attorney to review your medical files and consult with your doctors. As a result of your various injuries and the diagnoses given by your doctors and any other health care providers, we will be able to analyze your injuries in conjunction with the various case law that exists to find legal support in order to prove that your ongoing injuries meet the legal threshold for “serious injury” or be able to tell you that in our opinion your injuries do not meet the legal threshold enabling you to bring a lawsuit for pain and suffering.
- The Court will look at several key issues in assessing an injury such as follows:
- Do the damages meet one of the 8 standards listed above?
- Were there pre-existing injuries that the individual suffered from and if so how do those pre-existing injuries affect the injury that is being claimed?
- What is the nature of the injuries and their impact on the Plaintiff?
- Was there any gap in treatment where somebody did not go to the doctor or any other health care provider for a significant period of time and if so why?
- Are any of the physical limitations in terms of body function quantified and documented by any of the treating health care providers?
- Are the medical records that are being used to prove a serious injury certified or reliable enough for the Court to utilize in making this determination?
Your lawyer must guide you through this process and help prepare your case in order to prove all of the necessary elements of a “serious injury”. As lawyers, we cannot perform a miracle or even attempt to show that which does not exist. If you lack an injury, we cannot prove that you have one. However, there are many motor vehicle and/or pedestrian accident cases which do fall in a gray area where having a good attorney will make a big difference in how your case is presented and received by the Courts.
Common Injuries Sustained in For-Hire Vehicle Accidents
Accidents involving for-hire car services occur approximately 11 times per day in the City of New York. Certain for-hire vehicles are more dangerous than others. For example, in 1994, the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission made it mandatory for all yellow medallion cabs/taxis to install hard plastic partitions between the front seat where the driver sits and the back seat where there are usually passengers. Regrettably, accidents involving yellow cabs/taxis have resulted in many facial and hand injuries, including multiple fractures due to contact with this hard plastic partition. Other injuries due to sharp edges involving the plastic partition include lacerations, cuts and facial scarring. There are a host of other injuries involving taxi, limousine and other for-hire vehicles which include the following:
- Fractures/broken bones;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Traumatic brain injury;
- Herniated discs;
- Knee injuries;
- Shoulder injuries;
- Rupture of internal organs; and
- Chronic pain.
Traffic Laws Governing For-Hire Drivers
The laws controlling drivers of taxis, livery cars, cabs and/or limousines involved in motor vehicle accidents will be found in the Vehicle and Traffic Law of the State of New York, as well as certain regulations which have been enacted by the City of New York within the Department of Transportation Traffic Rules. The Vehicle and Traffic Law is applicable on public highways, private roads open to public motor vehicle traffic and many of the parking lots which are open to the public. These rules of the road apply to all vehicles unless otherwise provided under the law.
The statutory rules of the road are applicable and enforced throughout the state unless express authority has been given to local government and designated authorities, such as the City of New York, to enact its own additional ordinances, rules or regulations. Therefore, the City of New York may enact local ordinances and rules relating to traffic for the purpose of regulating taxis, cabs and other vehicles for-hire on the roadways or highways.
Generally speaking, under the law it is the duty of every driver of a vehicle for-hire to use reasonable care, taking into account the actual and potential dangers existing from weather, road, traffic and other conditions. Each motorist is under a duty to maintain a reasonably safe rate of speed, as well as to have his or her motor vehicle under reasonable control and to keep a proper lookout under the circumstances then existing to see and be aware of what was in his or her view, and to use reasonable care to avoid an accident. Therefore, a driver is charged with the duty to see that which under the facts and circumstances he or she should have seen by the proper use of his or her senses and if it is found that a motorist did not observe that which was there to be seen, that motorist may be found negligent in failing to look or in not looking carefully.
HOW WE CAN HELP YOU
Ira Perlman and Robert Rosen have over 30 years of experience in winning their clients full and complete monetary compensation for their harms and losses as well as the respect and dignity they so justly deserve. Mr. Perlman is a tenacious and seasoned trial attorney who has been successfully trying his clients’ cases as well as cases referred to the office from other attorneys for over 30 years. Mr. Rosen, with his adept litigation and writing skills has navigated clients’ lawsuits inside and outside the courthouse in order to achieve the excellent results that generate their ongoing success. The Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C. are prepared to expend all of the necessary resources, financial or otherwise, in order to investigate and prosecute your case including retaining all necessary medical and/or technical experts in the relevant areas and fields and taking your case to verdict at trial if the insurance companies who represent the wrongdoers do not want to fully and fairly compensate you and your loved ones. If you, a family member or a loved one has become a victim due to an accident, malpractice or a serious injury and you would like to achieve optimum results relating to your claims, call the Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C. at 212-689-5000 for help now including a free initial consultation.