There is an increasing number of concerning incidents occurring as a result of negligent taxi drivers. For a long time, disabled, injured or elderly passengers in wheelchairs have had limited options when it comes to transportation. This was often put down to not enough vehicles available with wheelchair access. However, in Queensland in 2019, the taxi industry was gifted $21 million by the State Government to help ensure fleets were wheelchair accessible and solve these disability transportation issues. Drivers with wheelchair-accessible vehicles also benefit from a $20 lifting fee when they lift passengers who qualify for the taxi subsidy scheme (TSS). Unfortunately, these changes have not been enough to ensure that disabled passengers are getting the service that they deserve.
Discrimination by taxi drivers
An 11-year-old boy with cerebal palsy was left waiting for hours stranded at a shopping centre, as taxi after taxi turned down his requests for transport. These requests were rejected even though the taxi drivers were nearby with wheelchair accessible vehicles – the drivers were simply opting to wait for higher paying fares.
This kind of discrimination is unacceptable and unfortunately, this young boy’s experience is not an isolated incident.
Gold Coast wheelchair users say they are regularly left waiting for taxis or rejected for pick-ups, despite clearly being protected under Queensland law. Shine Lawyers Gold Coast Solicitor Amanda Gilmour says the Disability Discrimination Act of 1992 made it illegal for a person providing goods or services to discriminate against another person on the ground of the other person's disability.
"It is not an unjustifiable hardship for a taxi driver to deliver services to people with disabilities, especially those drivers operating vehicles that are designed for wheelchair access. They are actually trained to transport people with disabilities.” Although, taxi drivers are trained to transport people with disabilities correctly and without discrimination, there are ongoing issues with negligence.
Taxi driver negligence causes a head injury
People in wheelchairs place a huge amount of trust in others to help them safely navigate in and out of vehicles. This trust resulted in an injury for a Cairns woman who was told by a taxi driver to reverse out of the vehicle, despite the ramp not yet being in place. This caused our client to fall one and a half metres, resulting in her suffering a head injury and dislocated shoulder.
"Sylvia was told by the taxi driver she was free to reverse out, but he had failed to put the ramp in place," Katharine Wood, Shine Lawyers Head Trauma Expert
“Taxi drivers who drive specialised vehicles for disability transport have a duty of care and are trained in procedures for assisting a person in a wheelchair in and out of the vehicle. This shocking mistake appears to have caused serious cognitive issues for our client which she deserves to be compensated for.”
Duty of care - taxi driver responsibilities
Taxi drivers have a responsibility to give reasonable help to passengers when they are getting in or out of a taxi. They must also arrange for other suitable transport for passengers if they can’t complete a journey.
As a taxi passenger, you have the following rights:
- The right to travel in a safe and comfortable vehicle;
- The right to ask for assistance with getting in or out of a taxi;
- The right to ask for help to load and unload your bags (if they aren’t unreasonably heavy);
- The right to travel with an assistance animal (where it’s required); and
- The right to use an accessible taxi if you need one.
Have a taxi injury claim? Contact Shine Lawyers
If you or your loved one has been injured by a taxi driver’s negligence or have experienced disability discrimination, please get in touch with Shine Lawyers. Our expert legal team can help you understand your options and, if eligible, help you to make a claim.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: October 6, 2020.