Chicago streets are crowded each day with taxis for tourists and commuters. Passengers have the right to expect that when they get in the taxi, they will be driven safely to their destination. All too often, however, taxi drivers are negligent, aggressive, and violate traffic laws. Such irresponsible behavior can also put pedestrians and other drivers at risk of serious injury, causing a taxi accident.
Unlike private, non-commercial drivers, taxis are considered common carriers and therefore owe a higher duty of care to passengers. They may also be held liable when third-party victims are involved. But getting the compensation you deserve is no easy task, and you need the skilled taxi accident attorneys of Hale & Monico on your side.
Why Does a Chicago Taxi Accident Happen?
Many, but not all, of the causes of taxi accidents are similar to those of automobile wrecks. But some are unique to the industry. Causes include:
- Reckless driving
- Illegal lane changes
- Failure to yield
- Operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Disregard for traffic laws
- Distractions presented by cell phones, radios, or trying to process payments while driving
- Mechanical problems or defects involving the taxi
After you receive the treatment you need for your injuries, you should write down as much information about the accident as you can remember. File a police report and get a copy of it for later. Talk to any witnesses who may have seen the accident and get their contact information. And retain an experienced taxi accident attorney at your earliest convenience.
Who May Be Responsible For My Accident?
Taxi accidents can happen in a number of different ways, meaning several individuals or entities could be responsible. In some cases, liability is shared among several defendants, and a knowledgeable lawyer will be sure any and all responsible parties are brought into the case.
These and other parties could be to blame for your accident:
- The taxi driver
- The taxi company
- The owner of the taxi medallion
- The mechanic who worked on the taxi
- An auto parts manufacturer
- The government entity responsible for regulating the taxi company
- Another driver
- A pedestrian
- Another passenger
Taxi drivers have their own insurance, separate from that of the taxi company, so companies often try to shift blame to them. Worse, many drivers are independent contractors, which complicates their role in the accident. Needless to say, cases like these are more challenging than standard automobile accidents, so trust a skilled attorney to handle your claim.
Understanding Common Carrier Liability in Chicago
Under law, taxis are considered common carriers. This term applies to entities such as bus lines who provide mass transportation services to the general public. Common carriers are required to provide the highest degree of care to their passengers. That means they owe exceptional safety to riders from the moment they step in the cab until they get out.
However, just because taxi companies owe passengers a higher duty of care doesn’t mean they own up to their responsibility. They may try to distance themselves from the actions of the driver or pin liability on a third party. In some cases they accept blame but try to severely undervalue your claim and make an unreasonable settlement. These are the times that victims need experienced legal help to demand the compensation they need.
The Role Of Insurance In Your Taxi Accident Case
The city of Chicago requires taxis to carry a minimum of $350,000 in automobile liability insurance. This is higher than the requirements for private drivers, and will compensate many victims for their losses. However, in some cases, the injuries and other damages will far exceed $350,000. Pedestrian and bicycle accident victims are particularly likely to suffer more injuries due to the lack of physical protection they have.
Dealing with insurance companies, especially those that represent taxis, is tricky. In most cases, the insurers reach out to victims and try to make settlement offers that are ridiculously low. They are also known for asking victims to give recorded statements that often come back to hurt them. If you settle your case, and your injuries worsen later, you won’t get another chance to ask for more money. And if you give a recorded statement wherein you admit (or purport to admit) responsibility, you could end up reducing your eligible compensation.
Therefore, don’t assume that the insurance companies are going to rush in and save the day. You need an aggressive law firm, one that is familiar with the dirty tricks insurance companies play. A knowledgeable accident lawyer will handle communications with the insurers and will not stop until you receive the compensation you deserve.
The Value Of Your Claim
On top of medical expenses, including those that are likely to arise in the future, you will probably lose time from work because of your accident. You might be hospitalized for a period of time, or have to take off from work to go to rehabilitation or follow-up medical appointments. If your accident is severe, you may not be able to work at the same level as before. That means decreased future earnings, potentially for the rest of your career.
These are just some of the possible damages you have the right to ask for. Hale & Monico has handled countless automobile accident cases, including those involving taxis. We know how to determine a fair value for your claim, and we have a network of outside professionals we may call upon to help. Don’t accept the insurance company’s low-ball offer. Let us go to work for you.
Contact A Chicago Taxi Accident Attorney
It’s important that you don’t wait too long to take legal action. Illinois imposes deadlines to file accident cases, and the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to make an effective legal claim. You owe it to yourself to consult a skilled accident attorney. Reach out to Hale & Monico today.