Virginia State Police continue to investigate the cause of a fatal taxicab crash in rural northwest Rockbridge County, VA. The deadly accident occurred on the afternoon of August 4, 2014. Both the driver and the passenger lost their lives when the vehicle ran off Route 39 near the intersection with Route 803 in the small community of Rockbridge Baths, north of Lexington.
According to television station WHSV-3, the taxi struck a tree and caught fire. The victims were trapped in the wreckage and could not escape. Reports did not indicate whether the men succumbed to injuries, smoke inhalation or burns. Regardless, my Virginia wrongful death attorney colleagues and I send our deepest condolences out the friends and family members of the deceased men.
Auto accidents involving taxis and other commercial passenger vehicles in Virginia are thankfully not common. When they do occur, however, difficult questions regarding liability and insurance coverage inevitably arise. Cab companies operating in the state are required to carry high amounts of coverage on their vehicle, and are also held to strict compliance with regulations regarding maintenance and driver screening. Taxi drivers themselves must qualify for a special license and pass drug and alcohol screenings on a regular basis. Issues such as these have been at the root of the controversies surrounding the launch of car services like Uber and Lyft in Virginia and elsewhere.
The rules and regulations for cabs exist to protect innocent passengers against injury, and also to ensure passengers or their families are not left without legal recourse for seeking compensation if an accident occurs. While it is too soon to know whether the taxi involved in the fatal Rockbridge county wreck was unsafe or if the driver was acting negligently or recklessly, the passenger's survivors will not be left without protections if any of those scenarios is confirmed.