Driving Experience

What Happens When You Get Into An Accident With a Chicago Taxi Driver?

By October 8, 2014February 10th, 20206 Comments


    As rideshare drivers, we like to hope that something like this will never happen but there’s no denying the facts.  Rideshare drivers are more likely to get into an accident (whether at-fault or not) since they are on the road more than your average driver.  Today, RSG contributor Scott Van Maldegiam gives us a first hand account of what happens after you collide with a Chicago taxi driver.

    Yes, I had the unpleasant experience of having a minor accident with a Chicago Taxi.  I have heard many horror stories, but as I look back on it, it wasn’t so bad.  It was a complete hassle but it could have been a lot worse.  Here is my experience and the process I went through.  I will also recommend what to do should it happen to you.


    The Accident

    I was on a single lane street coming up to a T intersection with a stop light at about 11pm on a Friday night.  The light was red and I was turning right to pick up a passenger. Yes, I was on ride request so UberX’s insurance was in effect.

    Related Podcast: Lyft and Uber’s Insurance Policy Explained

    Since I was turning right, I put my right turn signal on and moved to the right making room for another car that might be turning left.  A taxi pulled beside me.  I made the assumption that he was going to turn left since the road we were turning onto was only 1 lane each direction.  The light turned green and we both moved forward.  As I started to initiate my turn, the taxi turned into me.  I slammed on my brakes and immediately laid on the horn.  The taxi did not change his turn and eventually made contact with my car but as he did, he must have felt it and moved away averting much worse damage.  I pulled over and he pulled over up the street.

    Immediately After

    The taxi driver came back to talk to me and he said he thought I was pulled over parked.  I asked him if he thought all cars at a light with their right turn signal on were parked?  Sarcasm always gets the best of me when I am pissed.

    He gave me a confused look.  I said I was at a light with my right turn signal on in the right lane… I had the right of way.  He looked at the damage and just scoffed at it and proceeded to walk back to his car.  I told him to not leave or it would be a hit and run.  He continued to go back to his car.  At this point, it dawns on me that I better at least get his license plate number which I did get.  He did take off.  Admitedly, the damage is minimal with no dents, but the scratch at a couple of points does go all the way to bare metal.

    As I am walking back to the car, the passenger I was coming to pick up walks up to the car.  I apologize and tell him that I will have to cancel the ride.  I told him he would not be charged for the cancellation.  The guy was totally cool and showed genuine concern.  He wished me good luck.  At this point, a Good Samaratin came up and said he saw the whole thing.  He agreed to be a witness and gave me his contact info so I could provide it to the police and the insurance companies.  At this point, I called the police.

    I had to wait quite a while for a police officer to show up, but he finally did.  He wrote out a police report but basically said I was wasting my time pursuing this.  He said most taxi companies never pay a dime.  I told him I would be pursuing it regardless.  He wished me good luck.  That was the last ride of the night so I drove home.  On the way home, I called the taxi company and informed them I had been hit by one of their taxis.  I gave them the license plate number.  They said to call back on Monday when the person that handles insurance claims is in the office.

    Back at Home…

    When I got home, I contacted Uber via e-mail to start the initial process of reporting an accident.  The next day, my driving account had been suspended.  At first I was like “How dare they!!” but then I understood that they had no idea how damaged my car was at this point.  I was in contact with UberX regarding the condition of the car so that I could be back on the road the next night.  I took pictures of the damage and sent them to UberX so they could see the damage had very little affect on the overall look of the car.  They had me back up and running the same day.  Kudos to UberX for their quick response time.

    The Weeks Following the Accident

    After the weekend, I decided to file a complaint against the taxi with the city.  Since he left the scene of the accident, I wanted to make sure I documented this accident to anyone who would listen and to anyone that would dole out punishment to this taxi driver and/or taxi company, especially if they gave me problems paying the claim.

    On Monday, I did get a hold of the person with the taxi company who handles initiating claims.  The 2 key facts I had that enabled me to get the process started was the license plate number and that I had a witness.  She took down my info and passed it along to their insurance company.  I spoke with the insurance company and started the claim process.  I gave her a bunch of information including the witness information.  I also took it to my local body shop and they sent over pictures and an estimate for the repair.  Everything seemed to be going well.

    A day later, Thursday, I got a call from James River which is the insurance company for SideCar, UberX and Lyft drivers.  We chatted a bit but there wasn’t much they could do since the damage was less than the deductible of $1000 for UberX Collision/Comprehensive.  This is standard insurance practice and not unique to James River or rideshare insurance.  They did offer to send a letter to the other insurance company to add a little pressure.  I appreciated that they were willing to do that even though they didn’t have to.  Maybe it helped, maybe it didn’t.

    From here on out, it was more about me following up with the taxi insurance company than anything else.  They hope you will forget and not bug them.  I hounded them for a few weeks.  They said a claims estimator supervisor was reviewing the estimate… for a couple of weeks.  Finally, they said the check was in the mail.  I got the check a few days later and it was about 75% of what the estimate was.  It used a $32 an hour labor rate instead of the $50 an hour labor rate that my body shop was using.  I defy you to find a good body shop charging $32 an hour for labor.  I did some research on this and this is the toughest thing to fight when it comes to insurance payouts, so I cashed it so I could be done with it.


    So what did I do right to ensure I got an insurance payout:

    • License plate number of the taxi
    • Witness
    • Police Report
    • Complaint filed with the city
    • James River sending the letter to the other insurance company
    • Being relentless, but also very polite while appearing slightly impatient

    What could I have done better:

    • Get the driver’s name – this could be critical with some taxi companies

    I have spoken to other drivers and the general attitude with Chicago drivers isn’t IF you get into an accident, it is WHEN.  Knowing how to handle it will increase your odds of getting a payout if you are not at fault.

    One other thing to note, during September’s Lyft Live Hangout, the topic of their Comprehensive/Collision deductible came up.  UberX’s is $1,000 but Lyft’s is $2,500.  They stated that the reason for the high deductible was to avoid someone fraudulently filing a claim hoping to not use their own insurance.

    Related Article: Could Lyft Drivers Be On The Hook For A $2,500 Deductible?

    If you feel like it is important to your peace of mind that Lyft lower the Collision/Comprehensive deductible to $1,000, you have the opportunity to voice your opinion at the next Lyft Live Hangout.  It is on October 15th at 11am pacific time.  Check out the Hub for details.

    New Lyft Drivers Get Up To $250!

    LyftNew Lyft drivers can earn up to a $250 bonus after 20 rides. You can sign up here using my referral code.  And if you are an UberX driver in Chicago, you could be eligible to receive $500 when you sign up with Lyft and complete 20 rides!

    Drivers, have you thought about what would happen or how you would handle the situation if you got into an accident?  Is there anything we missed or did Scott do everything he could in this situation?

    -Scott @ The Rideshare Guy

    Scott Van Maldegiam

    Scott Van Maldegiam

    I'm Scott, a full time health benefits consultant and rideshare driver. I spent 11 years working for Motorola and Tellabs using my EE degree and MBA before transitioning into the mortgage industry where I spent 6 years. I then spent 5 years in the cycling industry before transitioning into health insurance.