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Taxi drivers and credit hire claims

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Tougher and more robust systems in place for taxi licenses in order to protect public safety

It’s been a long day, you have been working in your taxi since 6am picking up customers from supermarkets, bingo, the airport, schools, driving a great many miles. Suddenly, another driver pulls out and badly damages your car.

The accident was not your fault so you inform your insurance company and you also tell the local council about what has happened.  You might also tell your taxi base (or Uber, if you work with them).

The council tell you that because your vehicle does not meet the requirements in their guidelines due to the damage caused, your vehicle licence has been suspended and you cannot drive the vehicle again until it has been repaired and your licence reinstated.

And there you have it, your whole way of life and your primary way of earning an income is impacted due to the negligence of another driver.

You might then have all manner of questions running around your head, the main one being how your family (who rely on your income to pay the bills and buy food) will go without that income, especially given the current cost of living which seems to be ever on the increase.

You might think about not working until you feel better (from any injury sustained in the accident) but you know you cannot go without working for a few days, a week at most, without any income.

A company who has been contacted by your insurer calls and confirms that they can provide you with a suitable hire vehicle, with the correct license for your local council. You accept their offer gladly as this means you can continue to work and provide for your family. Terms and conditions are explained, and you sign the agreement without even thinking.

The hire car arrives the next day and you continue to work without your family and bills being impacted. Your own vehicle is repaired or you may even receive payment to allow you to purchase a new vehicle, and so you give the replacement vehicle back, and carry on with your life.

A few months, maybe even a year later, you receive a call from that company to say that they have been unable to get the hire costs back and are going to involve solicitors.

Now this is a shock, as you believed the matter had been resolved, and the panic sets in when the court documents arrive at your door, maybe from a firm of solicitors.

So, let’s set everything relating to hire vehicles straight…

  1. That company – they provide replacement vehicle services on a credit basis
  2. That document you signed – this is a credit hire agreement
  3. That solicitor and those court documents – they are instructed to recover the charges from the at-fault insurer, and will not be pursuing you

Whilst the credit hire agreement means you are personally liable for the costs, the terms of the agreement will generally set out that the hire company will agree to pursue said costs from the at-fault insurer, in exchange for your co-operation and so long as you are not found to be fraudulent.

It can then get especially challenging as once court proceedings are started, that at-fault insurer appoints their own solicitors, and it is their job to quash the hire charges or at least have them reduced by raising numerous arguments.

You might find you are faced with multiple questions, such as:

Why did you need a vehicle? Was there not another car available with the taxi base? Could you not have sat back and later claimed lost earnings? Did you use your own insurance company for your vehicle repairs or did you wait around for the at-fault insurer? Could you pay for hire using your own money? Indeed, could you have paid for repairs to speed up the process?

Although this may all come as a shock to you, it is perfectly normal following an accident where a hire vehicle was provided. So, breathe a little and grab yourself a cuppa’ – ring your solicitor and have a chat with them.  It sounds daunting but, with your help and co-operation, your solicitor will likely be able to resolve the matter in an efficient manner.

Stephensons have a specialist credit hire team with over 19 years experience. Our credit hire team deal with hundreds of individuals and businesses, including taxi drivers, in disputed credit hire claims, encountering a great deal of success.

If any of the above sounds familiar to you and you need some help, please get in touch with our specialist credit hire team on 0161 696 6235.

By Toni Lowery, graduate paralegal