I was very sorry to hear that a couple from Ohio vacationing in San Francisco died yesterday when the DeSoto taxi they were riding in crashed on an Interstate 280 off-ramp. In addition to the death of the two taxi passengers, the taxi driver was seriously injured, and two sheriff’s deputies who helped pull the victims out of the car were hospitalized for smoke inhalation.
According to the CHP, the couple was on the way from SFO to the Mark Hopkins hotel on Nob Hill when the cab’s brakes apparently failed. The taxi cab crash was reported at 10:57 a.m. at the Mariposa Street off-ramp from northbound I-280.
The woman passenger was pronounced dead at San Francisco General Hospital shortly after the crash, and the man died at about 4:20 p.m. The taxi driver was seriously injured but left the hospital.
The cause of the accident appears to have been failed brakes. The taxi driver said that he had smelled smoke as he was driving on the highway and that the brakes failed as he took the Mariposa off-ramp. The driver said he also tried to use the emergency parking brake to stop, but that did not work either and the taxi ended up crashing into a highway support beam and catching fire before it hit a steel support fence.
The taxi was a Dodge Intrepid from the DeSoto Cab Co. and was registered in San Francisco.
As a San Francisco Taxi Cab lawyer, I am always upset by this kind of case, because it almost always involves negligence on the part of the cab company in failing to keep its taxis safe for passengers. While I understand that the cabs have to be out on the street to make money, there is no justification in the world for failing to do proper maintenance–especially when it involves something as important as brakes. The taxi companies have to learn that we will not tolerate any shortcuts and passenger safety should be safeguarded before any other concerns.
Having handled lots of cases against cab companies in this City, many against DeSoto, I do know that the training a De Soto cab driver needs to get his cab driver’s license is not at all stringent (one week at a City class), and that they generally have no ongoing safety meetings and no ongoing safety training. They get no driver’s handbook from De Soto. Cab drivers are allowed to work other jobs and can show up to work tired from their other jobs. As professional drivers, taxi drivers should be subject to greater regulation, and stricter safety standards, like truckers. Still, in California, the cab driver is held to the highest standard of care, which is greater than a regular driver. I sincerely hope that the family of this couple finds a good law firm that makes the cab company accountable for this crash. Only when people or companies are made accountable does their behavior change. I would be happy to discuss this case and the law as it pertains to taxis and passengers in California with anyone who calls for a consultation.
We are not representing any of the parties mentioned in this article at the time the article was posted. Our information source is cited in the article. If you were involved in this incident or a similar incident and have questions as to your rights and options, call a reputable law firm. Do not act solely upon the information provided herein. Get a consultation. The best law firms will provide a free confidential consultation to “not at fault” persons described in this article and their family members.