Baltimore Auto Injury Update: Beware Cheap Taxi, Limousine Rides; Uninsured Cabbies can Cost You Big

These days, with the economy still struggling to get a foothold, many people are cutting corners to make ends meet. Similarly, many retailers and service providers are cutting their prices to compete with the limited pool of discretionary monies in family budgets. While taking a cab or hiring a limo may not be something that many cash-strapped individuals are doing much of, there is still a need for these services and it’s a fair bet that a percentage of potential customers may be looking for the cheapest ride available; cue the unscrupulous cab operator or limousine company.

While the numbers may be small, at least when compared to the universe of automobile, trucking and motorcycle collisions, victims of taxi cab-related traffic accidents represent a smaller percentage of personal injuries. Nevertheless, as Maryland auto and trucking accident attorneys, my office is aware that many people put their well-being in jeopardy on a regular basis when riding public transportation.

Here in Baltimore, as well as Annapolis, Rockville, the District and Gaithersburg, accidents involving service vehicles are certainly not unheard of. In fact, taxi cabs, hire cars, limousines and shuttle busses have all been part of a traffic wreck from time to time. As personal injury lawyers and occasional passengers of these kinds of vehicle ourselves, we understand how easily one can be seriously injured in even the simplest of automobile accidents, not to mention ones that do not provide seatbelts for occupants’ use.

You don’t have to be a physics major to know that an unbelted occupant of a motor vehicle can receive serious bodily injury, such as broken bones, cuts and lacerations, and even closed-head trauma and other potentially debilitating injuries.

And it’s not just the physical injuries that may leave an indelible mark on a victim of a taxi or limo crash. Any Maryland resident who rides in a cab, city bus, airport or hotel shuttle — or any other kind of fare-paying transportation — should know of the potential complications associated with being hurt in a service vehicle that is not properly insured. These uninsured carriers may offer lower fares, but the potential downside can be financially devastating. Even if you don’t takes cabs or shuttle buses regularly, you may have an elderly relative who needs this kind of transportation to get to and from their local market, doctor’s office or senior center.

Since automobile accidents can happen anywhere or any time, one must always ask oneself if the savings is worth the possible financial troubles down the road. Especially for those on a fixed income, like seniors or disabled individuals, uninsured cabs and hire cars can offer enticingly low fares, which sad to say may be very hard to turn down. But always ask yourself, “Is it worth the possibly devastating medical or work-loss costs should you become a victim of a driver’s error or negligence?”

Keep in mind that when someone becomes injured in a vehicle that is not properly insured, it may be very difficult for the victim or his family to recover medical and other costs. In comparison, legitimate taxi and limo companies may be more costly from a fare standpoint, however one of the (very good) reasons is likely because those kinds of carriers maintain proper insurance.

As Maryland auto accident lawyers, I and my colleagues are well aware of the risks involved in riding with an uninsured or under-insured driver. It may not seem so at the time, but hailing a “bargain basement” cab or hire car could be one of the most financially irresponsible things one can do, especially if that vehicle is caught in a traffic accident while you are riding inside.

Even those managers and owners of local supermarkets and grocery stores may not fully realize the liability that they and their companies might incur by allowing uninsured “courtesy drivers” to solicit fares from their customers. Known in the trade as “hackers,” these cheap taxi and limo services operate illegally in part because they do not bother to pay for commercial auto insurance — a requirement based on state law.

Based on past studies, the Maryland Auto Insurance Fund, which actually provides insurance coverage for many commercial limos and taxi cabs, charges a base premium rate of around $4,000 annually for vehicles operated in the Baltimore area. While those illegal hackers may likely carry personal auto insurance, their policies may not always cover a paying customer who might be injured or killed as a result of the driver’s negligence. This is especially true if the hacker is operating a vehicle without the knowledge of their insurance company.

The point here is that one should always think twice when choosing to use paid transport based solely on cost. At the time, it may seem a pennywise move, but it could end up hurting you in the end, especially if you become severely injured in a crash.

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