How liable are we for an employee’s accident that occurred while he was on the phone? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

How liable are we for an employee’s accident that occurred while he was on the phone?

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Q. One of our managers was talking on his company cell phone while driving when he struck and injured a pedestrian. Can the pedestrian sue the company?

A. The pedestrian could file a lawsuit against the company. In terms of whether the company would be found liable for the injuries, there have been some cases finding a company liable when an employee was driving and talking on a cell phone in the course of performing employment-related duties.

Was the employee having a work-related conversation? Do you have a cell phone policy that directs employees not to talk on the phone while driving? A court faced with this type of claim would likely assess whether the company was negligent in providing a phone to the employee.

Relevant factors might include whether the company expected this employee to “work” while driving, whether the company had taken a position in writing on the use of cell phones while driving and whether the accident occurred during work hours.

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