Las Vegas Sun

August 25, 2019

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Cab passenger in accident finds no one has to pay for her injuries

After hit-and-run, she learns Nevada law contains insurance loophole for taxis


Sam Morris

Kathy Graves, shown in her parents’ home Friday, learned firsthand about a loophole allowing taxicabs to operate in Las Vegas without uninsured motorist coverage after the cab she was riding in was struck by a hit-and-run driver and she was hurt. “Unfortunately, you’re out of luck,” says the claims manager at Yellow Checker Cab Co.

Beyond the Sun

Kathy Graves just wanted a cab ride but instead is getting the runaround while learning the hard way that Nevada law does not require taxis to carry uninsured motorist insurance.

In the early morning of New Year’s Eve, Graves, 49, climbed into a taxi at McCarran International Airport, bound for her parents’ east Las Vegas home.

She was visiting from Florida for the holidays, eager to catch up with her father, who had recently had heart surgery. He was doing better and was supposed to pick her up, but he got a flat tire.

So she took a cab instead, hopping into the seat behind the driver, admittedly without buckling her seat belt.

To say the least, the ride didn’t go as planned.

A vehicle ran a red light at Charleston Boulevard and Maryland Parkway and struck the cab hard enough that the driver had to be taken to the hospital. Graves was thrown around a bit, crashing into the back of the driver’s seat.

Wanting to get home to her family, she did not go to the hospital. But her medical records show she fractured her left ring finger and will need surgery to be able to bend it again.

Graves, who worked in catering in Florida, had no insurance. The other driver took off. And Graves ended up falling through a taxicab insurance coverage loophole.

Yellow Checker Cab Co. says it bears no responsibility, pointing to the hit-and-run driver as the responsible party. The police report shows that the accident probably was the other driver’s fault.

“Unfortunately, you’re out of luck,” said John Lucas, claims manager at Yellow Checker.

Other major cities’ taxicab oversight boards, including those in New York City and San Francisco, also do not require taxi companies to carry uninsured motorist coverage.

The situation would be no different if Graves had been riding in a friend’s car that didn’t have uninsured motorist coverage or if she had been walking down the street when she was hit. Either way the fault would be on the offending driver. And in her case, that driver was gone.

But hitching a ride with a pal and walking aren’t activities that are regulated by the state. And you don’t pay for them, Graves argues.

She has remained in Las Vegas with her parents since the accident. She says she cannot work in catering now because she can’t use her hand. Her life in Delray Beach, Fla., including her plans to build her own business, has been mostly forgotten, and a three-year relationship with her girlfriend is on the ropes.

“It’s perplexing because nobody has to take responsibility,” Graves said. “I didn’t want to be one of these people who went to the hospital and sued everybody on some trumped-up charge.

“I’d like to see them lobby for a bill that makes this illegal. The public needs to know they are not covered. It’s not a fluke. This can happen. There’s millions of people here with the tourism. They should know this.”

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