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Low Insurance Liabilities For Taxi Drivers Leave Accident Victims With Huge Bills

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Lawsuits are revealing a secret about New York City taxi drivers and the insurance they are required to carry.

As CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported, people who have been hurt in crashes say they have been left with major injuries and huge bills because of low liability coverage.

British tourist Sian Green-Lord's life changed forever as she was innocently walking in Midtown in the summer of 2013.

A cabbie jumped the curb near Radio City Music Hall and ran into her.

"I was hit by a taxi. I lost my leg. My medical costs for now, my limbs, are a lot of money," Green-Lord said, "and I have to pay for that, which I don't think is fair."

The cabbie who hit Green-Lord was only carrying $100,000 worth of liability insurance – the minimum required for for-hire drivers in New York City.

Green-Lord still has not seen a dime of it, and she has hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills.

"And the payout that I'm probably going to get now will not even cover that a tiny bit," she said.

When asked how much we are protected in such situations, civil attorney Alan Shapey said, "You're not protected at all."

Shapey is calling on lawmakers to increase the $100,000 minimum in New York City – the requirement which has not changed in 20 years.

Currently, the state only requires for-hire drivers to carry $25,000 in liability insurance.

"They need to wake up and understand what's fair to the citizens of the city of New York," Shapey said, "and if they don't shift this burden to the party who's at fault, which is the taxi driver and the taxi owners, all the taxpayers are going to pay."

The state Legislature and the Taxi and Limousine Commission have the authority to increase the minimum insurance requirement. Right now, there is no official proposal asking for that.

The commission said, "The TLC is constantly reviewing its regulations to ensure that they remain practical and applicable in changing times."

Meanwhile, yellow taxi drivers said ride share competition would make it hard for them to pay more now.

"To tell you the truth, we can't afford to pay any more on insurance," said Alex Korenkov of S&R Medallion Corp. "Right now, we're paying a tremendous amount in expenses and money."

Green-Lord said the city needs to make a change so as not to victimize the accident victims even more.

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