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 Commentary: Avoid PH Cars Like the Plague

Commentary: Avoid PH Cars Like the Plague

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By Neela Ramsundar

WHILE it’s a hot topic right now, I’m not sure everyone truly understands the dangers of PH cars in this country.

By now, we all know of the heightened risk women face daily if they enter a PH car: they are sometimes harassed, robbed, assaulted and even worse. But there is more the average person needs to know, to truly understand all the risks involved when jumping into that PH car.

In this country, the State has a regulatory scheme in place where bona fide taxi drivers must do certain things in order to be allowed to ply their car for hire. Their cars can be easily identified.  The first letter in their licence plates would be “H”.

PH generally refers to private cars for hire, meaning the driver did not go through the necessary legal process in order to lawfully ply their vehicles for hire. The act of operating a PH car is illegal. But it is also dangerous.

Licensed taxi drivers who are lawfully allowed to ply their cars for hire will have insurance coverage for their passengers. The owners/drivers of PH cars do not have insurance coverage for their passengers. The insurance coverage for private vehicles is normally limited to operating the vehicle for private use, and not for transportation of people or goods for profit or gain (i.e., the fare you pay).

I’ll break this down in the simplest of terms. If the driver of the PH car drove in such a way that he got into an accident and you get injured, his insurance company will likely refuse to compensate you for your injuries when they learn the driver was using it as a PH car at the time.

You can, of course, sue the owner/driver for compensation for your injuries. But unless the amount you are suing for is very small, in a practical sense, you may be beating a dead horse. Such a person is usually considered a “man of straw”, meaning it would be surprising if  he had enough money to cover your loss.
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You may pursue the lawsuit to the point of judgment in your favour, but then find yourself unable to enforce it because the owner/driver of the PH car does not have the assets to recoup the judgment monies.

In the end, you may not only have to pay for your own injuries out of pocket, but also legal fees and expenses.
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If I remember correctly, one of the reasons Uber pulled its service from this country was the unresolved haggle with the Ministry of Works over a demand that its Uber drivers pay for insurance coverage for its passengers, just as licensed taxi drivers do.

With Uber gone, the gaping hole that existed in non-traditional routes which are usually devoid of lawful taxis, returned. This issue has not since been addressed. Perhaps with the directive given by our Prime Minister to the AG and the Minister of Works recently to find a way to deal with PH cars, they will devise a system that will plug that gap and starve PH cars from that source of income. Fingers crossed.
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In the meanwhile, I understand that commuters particularly in non-traditional routes are faced with very little choice when it comes to getting transportation.

I do however hope that my article has helped to communicate why PH cars should be avoided like the plague. And why if a choice does exist, even it means some more cost or inconvenience, why it’s safer to bypass the PH car in favour of the lawful taxi drivers. Be safe Trinidad and Tobago.

Copyright © 2020 Neela Ramsundar, LL.B (HONS), L.E.C is a Civil Litigation Attorney at Law & Certified Mediator.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for general informative purposes only. It does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader. For legal advice on your specific situation, please contact an Attorney-at-Law of your choosing directly. Liability for any loss or damage of any kind whatsoever allegedly incurred a consequence of using content in this article is thus hereby excluded to the fullest extent permitted by law.

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