Liability Of Taxicab Company For Driver's Negligence

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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What Must A Person Injured In A Taxi Prove To Recover Damages From the Cab Company?

Many times a person injured in a taxicab due to the driver's negligence will have substantial damages from medical bills and lost wages.  Attempts to recover damages from the cab driver are often unrewarding because they personally don't have any money.  Therefore, it becomes necessary to recover damages from the company that provided the cab.  

In general, to recover from the taxicab company, a person who was injured in a taxi due to the driver's negligence must prove that the driver was the company's agent, servant, employee, or coparticipant in a joint venture.  This can be done in several different ways:

Franchise

The taxicab business is entwined with public interests which makes it subject to regulation.  These regulations often include the requirement that a franchise, permit, or license be obtained before engaging in the taxicab business.  In many jurisdictions proof that the company holds the franchise, permit, or license necessary for operation of the taxicab will establish the company's liability.

Ownership Of Taxicab

Often the taxi company will own the taxicab itself.  Generally, ownership of a negligently operated vehicle is not alone sufficient to impose liability. Therefore, the owner of a motor vehicle is not liable for damages caused when an independent contractor negligently operates it.  However, this rule has been modified by statute in a number of states.  These statutes make the owner of a motor vehicle liable for damages arising out of the operation of the vehicle by anyone with his permission.

Ownership of the taxi by the cab company is also relevant to establishing an agency relationship.  Ownership implies possession and control, and if the company has the right to possess and control the taxicab, it has means of exercising control over the taxicab driver.  Thus, if the company owns the cab and furnishes it to the driver, the driver is usually considered to be an employee rather than an independent contractor, and the company can be vicariously liable for the actions of its employees.

Holding Out As Taxicab Operator

Proof that a taxicab company held itself out as the operator of the taxicab may be enough to establish its liability.   "Holding out" means signs or expressions by the taxi company that come to the attention of the passenger and are reasonably interpreted by the passenger as indicating that the company is the master of the driver.  The two elements necessary to establish liability are a holding out by the company as the operator and a justifiable reliance on it by the injured party.   Generally, a trade name on the door is sufficient holding out and becoming a passenger is sufficient reliance to hold a taxicab company liable for a passenger's injuries.

Should I Consult An Attorney If I Have Been Injured In A Taxicab?

If you have been injured in a taxicab, the taxicab company may be liable.  Proving that the cab company is liable and collecting your judgment can be difficult, but an attorney can help.  An attorney can explain the law and your rights so that you can recover damages for your injuries.

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Last Modified: 01-16-2013 03:17 PM PST

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