Taxis and the growing number of variants, like ride shares and limos, tend to be in a lot of car accidents in Baltimore. Not only do they spend large amounts of time on the road, increasing their exposure accidents, but:
The good news is that technology is expanding the options for consumers who want a ride that will pick them up at one fixed point and deliver them to another. Traditional taxis have been around for a very long time. Variations like limousine services are more recent but still old enough to be established.
Much more recently, the technology of mobile electronics has led to new concepts like the Uber and Lyft “ride share” services. These rely on mobile technology to connect consumers needing a ride to drivers willing to provide one. How do these services really differ from taxes and limos, and what are the legal consequences of the differences? Much of that still need to be worked out.
The bad news is that: (1) the already chaotic taxi industry is now even more chaotic; (2) the new ride share arrangements put even greater distance between the driver and the company that the consumer deals with. The first point means that most consumers have no idea what regulatory body is responsible for ensuring their safety and protection from fraud and crime and that the regulations vary from location to location as well as from type of ride service (taxi versus limo versus ride share, etc.)
The second point means that Uber, Lyft, and similar ride share services tend to make less of an effort to ensure that drivers working in their name are safe and trustworthy. And when an accident occurs, it is very unclear exactly what the legal relationship is between the ride share company and the drivers working in their name. Are they employer-employee, contractor-freelancer, or something else entirely? It’s not an academic question—those relationships determine crucial issues as:
For-hire vehicles like taxis and limos must be inspected and approved before being registered with the state Motor Vehicle Administration. Taxi inspection and approval is not uniform in Maryland. The state Public Service Commission is responsible for taxis operating in Baltimore City and County and as well as Cumberland and Hagerstown. Taxis operating elsewhere in the state are the responsibility of various local agencies.
Uber and Lyft vehicles, however, are not considered Taxis and are not operated under the same regulatory scheme. In 2015, Maryland classified them as “transportation network services” and made them subject to the Public Service Commission, but under a different, and more lenient, set of rules than apply to taxis.
It might seem logical that taxis would carry lots and lots of insurance, but it’s usually not true–profit concerns tend to trump logic. Many places, including Baltimore, require only the state minimum liability insurance coverage: $30,000 for each person, $60,000 for each accident. Other places require higher limits.
Ride share services present unique insurance problems since they tend to rely partly on the driver’s personal insurance, and partly on additional insurance provided by the ride share company. What if the driver’s personal insurer claims there is no coverage while the vehicle is being used for commercial purposes, or the ride share service company claims that the insurance it provides only applies when a passenger is actually being carried and the accident occurred before or after the passenger was picked up?
Every auto insurance policy in Maryland has to provide uninsured motorist (UM) insurance—your own policy will pay you the damages you would have been entitled to recover from a motorist who failed to carry the mandatory liability insurance. Even if the other motorist does carry the required liability insurance, you can still recover under your UM insurance if the UM limits are higher than the other motorist’s liability insurance. It’s confusing to a lot of people, but experienced accident attorneys know exactly when and what you can recover.
Recovering for injuries in a taxi accident is rarely simple. Many taxi companies are self-insured and have every financial incentive to fight liability claims. Others that carry commercial insurance are covered by specialty insurance companies that also tend to resist liability claims. Ride share cases are new legal territory, and the companies are willing to spend large sums to make sure that your case doesn’t set a precedent for the future.
Whether you were injured as a passenger, a driver, a pedestrian, or an occupant of another vehicle, getting the assistance of an attorney with a history of success in handling Maryland taxi accident cases is your best bet for recovering the compensation you deserve. Call the accident lawyer team at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice as soon after the accident as possible to schedule a free consultation. There are never any legal fees owed until you recover compensation. Call us in Baltimore or Lutherville, MD today! 410.288.2900