According to an influential study led by Schaller Consulting, one of America’s premier vehicle accident research groups, New York City’s cab drivers spend an average of 3,000 hours behind the wheel every year. The report also found that the frequency of cab crashes that involve personal injury, including fatality, are on the rise. In fact, over a five year period (1996 – 2001), livery accidents increased by as much as 26%.
Taxi Cab Accidents In New York City: Common Causes, Common Results
Obviously, the problem is reaching epidemic proportions. The Department of Motor Vehicles found that New York City was home to 68,804 motor vehicle crashes in 2012 alone. Of those, Schaller Consulting found that 16% of all accidents resulting in injury involved taxi cabs.
Why Do Accidents Happen?
As taxi cab accident lawyers, the attorneys at Banville Law are less interested in the fact that crashes occur than investigating why specific accidents happened. In particular, we focus on examples of negligent conduct. “Negligence” sounds like a complex concept at first, but at the bottom, it’s pretty simple.
When a taxi driver picks up a fare, when a passenger enters their cab, the two enter a professional relationship. The passenger agrees to pay the driver for the completion of a certain service, transportation.
We expect these professionals to act in a certain way, to drive safely and obey traffic laws. We define a range of actions, based on what normal, rational people in similar situations would do. When a professional acts, or fails to act, along with the lines of these appropriate behavior, and another person is harmed, they have acted negligently.
Now that we’ve defined negligence, we can begin to investigate the particular forms of negligence that cause taxi accidents.
As we mentioned earlier, cab drivers spend a lot of time on the road. Taxi operators make money based on their number of fares. Usually, they don’t receive a salary, or work for an hourly wage. Instead, many work long into the night, “chasing” fares. You won’t be surprised to learn that driver fatigue is a common contributing factor in many taxi accidents. Beyond the point of exhaustion, drivers suffer:
- Increased stress
- Sensory impairment, including blurred or bleary vision
- Decreased judgment
Driving in New York can be difficult enough, without any diversions inside your car. But taxis are filled with distracting equipment, not the least of which is a dispatch radio. And we’ve all seen taxi drivers take cell phone calls on the job.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that nearly 25% of all car accidents involve driver inattention. Particularly disconcerting is the use of text messaging while driving. Texting takes a driver’s attention off the road for up to five seconds, at a minimum.
While taxi drivers in New York City are required to undergo a rigorous screening process, and extensive training, the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) is not free from corruption.
In 2013, a cab driver struck a pedestrian outside Rockefeller Center. Investigators found that the driver had numerous points on his license, enough to have had his license suspended months before. Representatives at the TLC said his prior violations had apparently been “overlooked.”
Obviously, negligence does not always solely rest on a driver’s shoulders. In this case, inspectors at the TLC may have been negligent themselves.
In some instances, taxi drivers are responsible for the maintenance of their vehicles. Cabs must be kept in proper working order at all times, largely to prevent accidents. But time and time again, taxis are driven with:
- worn-out tires
- non-functioning, or broken, seat belts
- broken or run-down brakes
Vehicle manufacturers have also been held liable, for parts that were sold with known, or foreseeable defects.
Sometimes, proving a driver’s negligence, is as simple as demonstrating that they broke the law. The following violations account for more cab accidents than any others:
- improper lane changes, or weaving dangerously through thick traffic
- failure to stop at stop signs, or running red lights
- failure to yield before making a left turn
- speeding, and other forms of aggressive driving
New York City Of Negligence
Improper Road Design Or Maintenance
Even engineers and construction companies have been held liable for taxi accidents in NYC. Those who design our roadways are responsible for designing them safely, placing signs in appropriate locations, and ensuring that our streets are safe for drivers.
Road defects, like potholes, cause numerous accidents every year. If the Department of Transportation (DOT) was made aware of a defect, and failed to fix it, they may be held partially responsible for crashes that occur as a result.
I Was Injured. What Should I Do Now?
Nothing in New York City is easy, and taxi accidents are no exception. The cab industry, and driving in general, is a complex world of regulation, public opinion, and legal precedent, factors that can turn even the simplest insurance claim into an extreme headache.
Matters are worse for victims seriously injured in a crash. Were you hurt in a taxi cab accident? You deserve the compassion and expertise of an experienced New York City personal injury lawyer. You deserve Banville Law.
Ready to begin seeking justice? Contact the taxi crash lawyers at Banville Law to schedule a free consultation.