The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

Injury From A Taxi Crash? Don't Expect A Big Insurance Check

Even though cruising Chicago's urban grid in the back of a taxi cab comes with its share of risks, as does automobile travel in general, that's just part of living in the big city. But the Chicago Sun-Times reports on the inadequate insurance coverage of taxi companies in the event of an injury from a taxi crash.

Simply stated, an unintended consequence of Chicago's actions to break up the cab monopolies in 1998 is what many critics say is a too-low insurance compensation limit.

While the $350,000 ceiling on insurance payouts for passengers injured in a taxi crash might seem high enough at first glance, it's chump change for some of the most serious accidents.

At least that's the opinion of Chicago accident attorney Jeffrey Kroll, who helped a client win a $5.2 million judgment for injuries sustained in a taxi cab accident 15 years ago:

"The cab companies have created their own cap on damages. Today, a woman who needs a lifetime of care may be limited to $350,000."

Illinois injury lawyer Joseph Power Jr. has a similar view and describes the structure of the cab business as a "shell game" that allows them to keep liability exposure to a minimum. In the past, he said, crash victims usually received what he refers to as "fair and just" compensation.

He is representing the family of a young woman who was killed after a Chicago Carriage Cab struck her vehicle four years ago.

Here is how the business is structured, briefly: 

The cab driver leases the car and route from the owner of the cab license, who buys the license from what is known as a "medallion," which is in turn managed by a management company that typically is responsible for several medallions. Finally, an affiliation company supplies the colors and radio dispatch service.

Michael Levine, CEO of Yellow Cab, told reporters that suing an affiliation company for a cab-related accident is like suing your travel agent if your plane crashes.

But for those seriously injured in taxi-related incidents may not agree with the analogy.

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