(a) Any owner of a vehicle-for-hire required to file a bond or policy of liability insurance under § 50-301.14 may instead:
(1) File with the Commissioner a blanket bond or blanket policy of liability insurance in an amount considered sufficient by the Commissioner to cover accident risks for the payment of judgments or claims arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or operation of the vehicle-for-hires to which the blanket bond or blanket policy shall relate, and covering all vehicles lawfully displaying the trade name or identifying design of any individual, association, company, or corporation. The Commissioner shall periodically review all blanket bonds or blanket policies filed under this subsection to assure that the amount of the bond or policy is adequate to protect the public and may after a hearing order the adjustment of the required amount of the bond or policy as is reasonable and necessary to protect the public; or
(2) Create and maintain a sinking fund in an amount the Commissioner considers reasonable and necessary to protect the public, and deposit the same, in trust, for the payment of any judgment recovered against the owner arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or operation of a covered vehicle-for-hire, with the person, official, or corporation the Commissioner shall designate. A sinking fund shall not be created unless the Commissioner is satisfied that the owner is possessed and will continue to be possessed of the financial ability to pay judgments obtained against the owner. If such a fund has been created, the Commissioner shall have authority and shall periodically require whatever evidence of the owner’s financial status is necessary to satisfy the Commissioner of financial ability to pay judgments, and may, based upon findings after a hearing, impose any reasonable and necessary requirement as will assure the financial integrity of the fund. If upon the evidence and after a hearing on the issue the Commissioner finds that a fund is not possessed and will likely not continue to be possessed of financial ability to pay judgments, the Commissioner shall require that the owner file a bond or policy of insurance required by § 50-301.14, and shall return to the owner the amount of the sinking fund when the Commissioner is satisfied that the maintenance thereof is not needed to assure the payment of any claim or judgment then outstanding. Failure to pay any judgment within 30 days after judgment becomes final shall constitute reasonable grounds for finding that the owner is not possessed of financial ability to pay judgments.
(b) If any owner elects to comply with the provisions of this section, he or she shall file an admission of liability with the Commissioner, in conformity with the principles of respondeat superior, for the tortious acts of operators of vehicles displaying the trade name or identifying design of the company, association, or the owner.
(c) Any cash or collateral deposit or sinking fund provided for in this section shall be exempt from attachment or levy for any obligation or liability of the depositor except as provided in this section.
(d) It shall be unlawful to operate any vehicle subject to the provisions of § 50-301.14 and this section unless the vehicle is insured as provided in this subchapter, under threat of a civil fine not to exceed $500. Any violation of any regulation or requirement issued or ordered pursuant to § 50-301.14 or this section shall be subject to a civil fine not to exceed $500.
(e) For the purpose of this section a blanket bond or sinking fund may be established by the owner of a trade name or identifying design and may cover taxicabs bearing the trade name or identifying design of the owner, multiple fleets of taxicabs bearing different trade names or identifying designs of the owner, or owners of individual taxicabs bearing different trade names or identifying designs of the owner, irrespective of whether the owner of the trade name or identifying design owns the taxicab so long as the registered owner of the taxicab consents in writing to the sinking fund or blanket bond established by the owner of the trade names or identifying design. For the purpose of this subsection a member of a taxicab association shall be considered to have consented to a blanket bond or a sinking fund duly established by the association and no consent in writing shall be required.
1981 Ed., § 40-1715.
2001 Ed., § 50-315.