From time to time, there will be a difference between a U.S. law and its equivalent in a foreign country. The one that I find most striking is the one regarding liability if a taxi driver causes an accident in Turkey, versus the United States. Perhaps the difference in results is due to a difference in legal theories/policies.

In the U.S., a driver is considered a "free agent" in a provider-client relationship. As such, the liability for an accident rests squarely on him.

In Turkey, I've been told that the liability rests with the passenger. The theory appears to be that the passenger is paying, and is therefore in a position to dictate how fast or slowly the taxi goes.

Is a Turkish driver considered a member of a subservient class, with the passenger in a dominant (economic) position? Or is it a case where passengers and drivers are similar everywhere, but Turkish public policy wants to give the injured party access to the deeper pockets of the passenger? And could this be because the average passenger is disproportionately wealthy compared to the average driver (by 10x or more)? This is generally not true in the U.S.

  • 2
    Source for the Turkish law? – yannis Jun 11 '13 at 14:06
  • 1
    USA taxi cab companies may be liable as well. Trust that wherever there is money, a lawyer will try to assign liability. – user1873 Jun 11 '13 at 14:26
  • @YannisRizos: My high school world cultures class. The teacher had taken a summer vacation in Turkey. Does living in Greece make one more knowledgeable about things like this? – Tom Au Jun 11 '13 at 14:47
  • 2
    @TomAu That's an... extremely weak source, wouldn't you say? Perhaps it would be better if you found an other example, one that's not based on hearsay? – yannis Jun 11 '13 at 17:37
  • 1
    @Tom Au Taking a summer vacation in a country doesn't make you an expert on its laws. Can we see an actual reference demonstrating that the responsibility lies with the passenger? – DJClayworth Jun 11 '13 at 18:36

Let's analyse all the possibilities. The taxi may reach safely to the destiny or it may not. If it reaches everything is ok, if there is an accident or any problem we have four combinations depending on whether the taxi driver and the passenger behaved correctly or not. The taxi driver goes first so we have: yy, yn, ny, nn.

  • yy: both behaved properly, the guilt must be in some external agent, like another driver doing something wrong, in this case the laws to apply are the general ones, no specific case for the taxi.
  • yn: the taxi moved properly, so this is equal to the previous case. Except for the inconvenience of a annoying passenger.
  • ny: there was an accident, and the taxi driver is guilty, this is analogous to the first case, simply the guilty car is a taxi.
  • nn: there was an accident, and the taxi driver is guilty, the passenger may be blamed for it, but it is impossible to tell the difference from the previous case (no witnesses).

Any assumption biased to the 3rd or 4th case will be unfair due to the bias. How can we find the difference? It depends on who is free and can avoid the 3rd or 4th case, and so we have another 4 combinations depending on two new different factors.

  • The passenger can choose to get down of the taxi at any time, so the 3rd case is easily avoidable, if the taxi driver does not allow the passenger to get down then the passenger is basically kidnapped, which is illegal anyway.
  • The taxi driver may decide whether taking some passenger or not. While this freedom may be normal and good to avoid the 2nd and 4th case this may not be as good as a idea in Turkey as in USA, basically it depends whether the taxi is going to traverse areas that are unsafe from point A to point B. The freedom to get the passenger down at any place may mean the death to some people.

Therefore, if we can prevent only one case by restricting some freedom, the third is more naturally prevented than the fourth, and in this context the bias to the 4th case may make sense. You can model all 16 possibilities, but the probability (and utility) of an agent choosing one or another is going to depend on factors as the safety in the streets, considering that you can see for different values in these factors different possibilities make more or less sense.

  • This seems to discuss what the problem is but does not answer the question of why they are different. – SoylentGray Jun 11 '13 at 16:43
  • 1
    Legislators framed their thoughts in different contexts, which could be truthful or not. I do not discuss the problem, but all possible solutions. The solutions in Turkey and USA are simply two particular cases, included in the set of all cases, which I describe. – Trylks Jun 11 '13 at 17:30
  • @Chad: The implication for the Turkish law is that the passenger is supposed to leave the taxi. In a sense, it is the passenger's way of declaring his innocence. Just as my teacher described it. The Turkish law wanted this mechanism, U.S. law does not. – Tom Au Jun 11 '13 at 17:58
  • @TomAu - In the US the passenger would probably go to jail if they left the scene. I would also note that in the US if the passenger insists that the driver act unsafely (speeding, ignoring traffic control devices, etc) the passenger can be held liable as well. – SoylentGray Jun 11 '13 at 18:25
  • @Chad the passenger "should leave the taxi" before something bad happens, not after that ;) – Trylks Jun 11 '13 at 18:34

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .