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A Cell Phone Accident: Your Employer May Take the Hit

Cell phone accidents on the road are typically the result of distracted driving, but according to a recent article, lawyers are targeting companies whose employees have caused auto accidents while using their cell phones.

And furthermore, juries and judges are handing out huge awards:

  1. The Washington Post reported that a jury awarded a Florida family $21 million after a 32-year-old woman was killed in a cell phone-related car accident.
  2. A Texas jury ordered Coca Cola to pay $21 million to a 37-year-old woman, who suffered nerve damage to her back after she was hit by a car driven by a Coca Cola sales person talking on a cell phone.
  3. International Paper settled for $5.2 million after an employee on a cell phone caused an accident that cost a woman her arm.

If employees are expected to be available to work while on the road, it is reasonable that the employer should take the hit if a cell phone accident occurs. There are two main reasons that businesses should be concerned about employees and cell phone liability:

  1. Talking on a cell phone while driving is an unsafe activity and increases the risk of injury or death. An employee could be injured or killed in an accident in part because of cell phone usage while driving.
  2. If the employee is engaged in company business while on the phone and involved in an accident then the employer may be liable, and face significant financial repercussions.

Cell phone accident lawyers tend to go after companies in these lawsuits, because corporations have deeper pockets than individuals. And the scope of liability is broad. According to the article, companies could take the hit in cell phone-related accidents if an employee is:

  • Driving a company car
  • Driving a private car, but on company business
  • Using a company cell phone, regardless of whether it’s a company or private call
  • Using a private cell phone for company business

Many Fortune 500 companies, like UPS, Dupont, Exxon, Chevron and Time Warner, have already banned employees from using cell phones while driving.  Dave Teater, senior director of transportation initiatives at the National Safety Council noted that not all companies have jumped on the banning bandwagon, “Some of these companies wouldn’t dream of letting fork lift operators in a plant talk on a cell phone while driving around. But they’ve got sales people on the road doing it all day long”. Teater also mentioned that larger companies are ahead of other businesses on this issue, because they have people dedicated to ensuring workplace safety.

It is hardly surprising that cell phone use is causing accidents. According to a recent study published by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, cell phones cause more than 2,600 motor vehicle related deaths a year and over 330,000 injuries. According to one of the study’s authors, Professor David Strayer, a 20-year-old who uses a cell phone while driving will demonstrate reaction times as slow as those of a 70-year-old.

It is clearly dangerous and potentially costly to talk on the cell phone while driving. On the other side of this issue, the longer you wait to file a claim against a distracted cell phone driver, the greater the chance that you may give poorly advised statements to insurance company adjusters. Time restraints are especially true when the at-fault driver is an employee at a large corporation. With deeper pockets, you may have a better chance at receiving compensation for your injuries and suffering, but you are also likely to face experienced company lawyers. It is certain that no company wants to take the hit for their employee’s cell phone accident!

Having someone on your side to represent you in these situations can make the difference between getting what you need following a cell phone accident, or coming up short. Call 1-(888) 625-6265 or fill out our free online consultation for your cell phone accidents and related injuries.

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Steven Malman was selected to the list. The list is issued by the American Institute of Legal Counsel. A description of the selection methodology can be found at http://www.aiopia.org/selection/.

  • Steven Malman was selected to the list. The list is issued by the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys. A description of the selection methodology can be found at http://www.naopia.com/selection-process.

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