Ponton Law has handled many taxi accident cases in the Atlanta area and throughout the Southeast. The first issue that comes up in every taxi case is the amount of the total available insurance coverage. This is why we always advise all of our clients to utilize an Uber or Lyft for their transportation needs in the greater Atlanta area. This is because Uber and Lyft have minimum amounts of liability coverage which are available in the event that the Uber or Lyft driver is at fault. In Georgia, Uber and Lyft drivers have a minimum of $1,000,000 in coverage. Of course, this does not mean that the insurance company is paying that sort of money on each and every case. Rather, this is the outer limit of what would be paid in the event that your damages, including your special damages and general damages, were worth the policy limits. On the other hand, Georgia law only requires taxicab operators to maintain minimum limits in Georgia, which is $25,000 per person. This means that the total available insurance coverage to pay for all your damages is $25,000. We have never handled a taxi accident case in Georgia where the liability limits exceeded $25,000.
The next issue that comes up in these taxi accident cases is who to bring a claim against. As a general rule, you would want to bring a claim against not only the taxi cab driver but the taxi cab company as well. The defense will contend that the taxi driver is an independent contractor and it is not liable for its actions. It is always better to have a corporate defendant (e.g., a taxi cab company) when bringing a lawsuit because it gives additional options for the venue, brings the potential for claims including negligent hiring, negligent entrustment, and negligent retention. Thus, Ponton Law will do everything it can to allege and keep the taxi company in the case through trial. What types of things do we look for in trying to keep the taxicab company in the case?
In Georgia, the employer generally is not responsible for torts committed by the employee when the employee exercises an independent business and is not subject to the immediate direction and control of the employer. O.C.G.A. §51-2-4. An employer is liable for the negligence of the contractor if the employer retains the right to direct or control the time and manner of executing the work or interferes and assumes control so as to create the relation of employer and employee or so that an injury results that is traceable to the employer’s interference. In the context of a taxi cab accident case, this means that we are trying to show the taxi cab’s company control over its driver. The last case we tried in Paulding County we were successful in beating a motion for directed verdict involved establishing facts that show control over the time, manner, or method. Specifically, we were able to show that the tax cab company:
- Taxi company provided taxi driver with a driver’s manual;
- Taxi company provided training to the taxi driver;
- Taxi company limited how many hours taxi driver could driver;
- Taxi company provided radio for exclusive use of taxi driver;
- Taxi company owned the vehicle involved in the crash;
- Taxi company paid for maintenance on vehicle involved in crash;
- Taxi company required taxi driver to accept dispatch calls.
If you have been injured in an Atlanta taxi accident, call Ponton Law immediately at 404-418-8507. We have handled lots of these claims, including through trial, and have a wealth of understanding in how to work up these claims and maximize recoveries.