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English tourist hit by taxi in New York suffers serious injury

By Principal Lawyer, Occupiers and Public Liability

I have written this blog on the back of the shocking circumstances involving an accident to a tourist who I understand had just arrived in New York and which occurred on the 20th August.

It would appear that a yellow taxi which will no doubt be a licensed New York taxi, mounted a kerb and struck the tourist in such a way and with such force that the blow caused a traumatic amputation to one of her legs.

There is some mention in the press, of the leg being reattached and it goes without saying that our thoughts are with this person and it is very much hoped the surgery will be successful.

The purpose of this blog is not to therefore comment in depth on the circumstances which I have briefly outlined above but instead to comment on the question of Overseas Accidents involving New York taxis in particular. This is a serious topic. I have written a blog on this previously albeit some time ago, when I commented on the dangers involved in being struck by a New York taxi specifically because of the lack of appropriate insurance.

It is my understanding that premiums are so high for taxi drivers in New York and the risks of having an accident so much greater than in many other cities, that insurance companies are reluctant to provide taxi drivers with insurance which would cover the driver where a claim was brought for what could amount to many millions of pounds.

The loss of a leg, any Amputation Claims essentially or a serious accident involving the injured person being placed in a wheelchair is going to equate to substantial damages, not just for the actual injuries sustained which are low but in having to pay for prosthetic limbs, regular assessments, care, adaptations to the home, the purchase of a new property if required such as a bungalow, loss of earnings, pension loss so that damages could quite easily equate to in excess of £ 3-5 million plus.

This firm has dealt with numerous cases involving Spinal Injury Claims and amputations - and damages are rarely less in the more serious cases. In an accident in the US such as the accident above, damages are likely to be significantly more.

The danger therefore of being involved in an accident involving a New York taxi is that the level of indemnity available via the driver’s insurance may not be sufficient to cover the relevant amount of compensation and this is a very real issue.

It is one thing insurance companies taking premiums but another thing altogether where the insurance fails to provide adequate cover and fails to compensate the innocent party.

Commenting on matters closer to home and as I have done previously in a blog, I am always extremely concerned when I see what is called a Pedicab on the streets of London.

These are relatively new. They appear to have been sanctioned by the Mayor’s office and they regularly ply the streets around Oxford Street, generally in the evening.

They can take 2 or 3 people on what amounts to a bench at the back of the bicycle which is a 3 wheel affair and they weave as best they can, in and out of traffic and have very little by way of warning signs or lights.

It is simply a matter of time in my view before one of these Pedicabs is involved in a significant accident where the cause of the accidents lies with the pedi-cyclist and where the passengers, having sustained serious injury, have no redress.

It is my understanding that whilst some of these Pedicabs work under an umbrella organisation where insurance may be in place, there is no required to have insurance in the same way that London Black Cabs and Licenced Minicabs are required to have insurance and that as a result, members of the public and tourists in particular are placed at risk as a result.