A taxicab is a common carrier and, therefore, it is bound to exercise the highest degree of care for the safety of its passengers. However, a taxicab is not an absolute insurer of the safety of its passengers, meaning that it will only be liable for a passenger’s injury when is the injury is caused a breach of duty. Therefore, the question of taxicab liability usually turns on whether the taxicab has violated its duty to the passenger and whether the negligence resulting from that violation was the cause of the passenger's injuries.
Duty to Stop in a Reasonably Safe Place
A taxicab has a duty to stop or park at a place where it is reasonably safe for a passenger to enter or exit the vehicle. When a taxicab driver stops in a hazardous position or location which subjects passengers to the risk of injury, the driver has violated his duty of reasonable care.
Cases based on such a violation frequently involve the situation where the taxicab stops for passengers in violation of traffic regulations or safety rules and either the taxicab or a boarding passenger is struck by another motor vehicle because of the hazardous location of the taxi.
Duty to Assist Passengers Entering or Exiting the Cab
Generally, a cab driver has no duty to assist passengers entering or exiting a cab. However, the duty to assist can arise if a passenger requests assistance or their fragile condition is readily apparent.
For example, one court found a driver liable?@because he failed to help a young woman who had a bundle of groceries in one arm and a pocketbook and package in the other. Instead of getting out of the taxi and helping the woman into the taxi, the driver merely stayed in his seat and opened the front door for her.
The woman slipped while getting in the cab and suffered injuries to her back. In finding the cab driver liable for her injuries, the court stated that she demanded the driver's attention because it was dusk and she had bundles in each arm.
Injuries from a Defective Condition in the Taxicab
Sometimes, passengers are injured due to defects present within the taxicab or improper maintenance of the vehicle. For example, one taxicab was found liable for allowing ice to accumulate on the running boards. The driver failed to help a woman into the cab and parked at such an angle that use of the running boards to enter into the vehicle was necessary. When the woman stepped on the icy running board, she slipped and struck her head, causing paralysis to the right side of her face.
Should I Consult an Attorney about Taxicab Liability?
If you have been injured in a taxicab, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. An attorney can help explain the law and your rights so that you can recover damages for your injuries.