Whether you were hit by a taxi driver or if you were injured while as a passenger in a taxi, you may have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation for the losses you have suffered. Determining who might be responsible for the collision is a critical part of determining who should pay for your damages. Taxi accidents in Seattle are not uncommon, but they take a thorough investigation by a skilled attorney to properly pursue.
Holding a Taxi Driver Responsible for a Wreck
Although taxi drivers are supposed to safely operate their vehicles, that does not mean that they always do. Drivers have the responsibility to prevent dangerous situations whenever possible and drive within the legal limits of traffic laws. Failure to do so could result in serious collisions.
Potential reasons a taxi cab accident may occur in Seattle include, but are not limited to:
- Disobeying traffic laws and signals
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Speeding and reckless operation of taxi cab
- Ignoring safety concerns of passengers
- Distracted driving and exhausted driving
Whether the plaintiff was in their own car or a passenger in the cab, these negligent actions can result in them suffering catastrophic harm. If that is so, the plaintiff may be entitled to file a personal injury claim for substantial monetary damages.
Holding Taxicab Companies Responsible for their Actions
Another strong possibility is that the taxi cab company itself is responsible for the accident. Taxi cabs are considered “for hire operators” under RCW 46.72 and should be held statutorily liable for damages and are required to maintain a surety bond or insurance.
Alternatively, many taxi cab companies may be directly responsible for the negligent acts of their drivers under vicarious liability laws or the Doctrine of Respondeat Superior. This means “the master is liable for the wrongs of the servant.” Taxicab companies may try and evade responsibility by saying that the driver of the cab is not an employee, but an independent contractor, so the cab company can evade responsibility. However, there are several factors Washington courts consider to determine whether a cab driver is an employee rather than an independent contractor. If it can be shown the cab driver is an employee of the cab company, then that cab company may be held responsible for the negligence of their employees.
To show that a cab driver is an employee rather than an independent contractor, some factors courts consider is:
- Extent of control the cab company, by agreement, that is exerted over the driver
- Whether the driver is engaged in a distinct occupation or business
- Whether the work is done under the direction of the employer or by a specialist without supervision
- The skill required in the particular occupation
- Whether the employer supplies the instrumentalities, tools, and place of work for the person doing the work
- The length of time the person is employed
- Method of payment, whether by the time or by the job
- Whether the work is part of the regular business of the employer
- Whether the parties believe they are creating the relation of master and servant; and
- whether the principle is or is not in business
It is not necessary that all factors be present.
These types of actions may create direct liability for the taxi cab company especially if it is established the driver is an employee and not an independent contractor. Working with a knowledgeable attorney in the area could help someone effectively recover compensation after a taxicab crash.
Taxi Insurance Requirements in Seattle
Taxi cabs in Washington are expected to carry certain levels of insurance according to the City Business Regulations. This includes the requirement that the cab carry bodily injury coverage of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident and $25,000 for property damage. The rules also require the cab driver carry uninsured motorist insurance of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per person.
These requirements help to ensure that some level of payment is available should the taxicab get in a wreck in Seattle. Dealing with insurance companies can be incredibly difficult, but could be made much easier with a quality attorney by the plaintiff’s side.
Pursue Compensation with a Taxi Cab Accident Attorney in Seattle
Dealing with the aftermath of taxi accidents in Seattle can be incredibly difficult for you and your family. You may have sustained very serious injuries and be unsure of how to proceed with your case. With experienced legal counsel here to help, you could fight for any compensation that may be available.
Let an experienced lawyer at our firm help with your case. Contact us today.