If your employees are operating any type of vehicle while using a cellphone, you may find yourself liable in the event of an accident. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more and more workers are talking on their cellphones while driving and when accidents occur, businesses are paying the price.
Today, cellphones are everywhere. Unfortunately, that includes behind the wheel. And while many companies are ignoring this dangerous trend, this is never a good idea. However, liability can be limited or even eliminated if a company has a policy in place that prohibits the use of cellphones while driving.
While there is a distinction between personal cellphones and company-issued cellphones, even if an employee is talking business on their personal cellphone, the company could still be liable. In the majority of cases, courts have found that an employer is responsible for harm caused by an employee if an employee is acting within the scoop of his or her employment at the time of the accident.
Employers can also be found liable if employees have not been properly trained about the dangers of cell phone usage while driving. In order for a company to reduce their potential liability for employees’ cellphone use, the following guidelines should be followed:
- Prohibit all use of cellphones while behind the wheel of any type of vehicle. Employees should sign a statement that confirms this fact. At the very least, employees should be instructed to pull over if they need to make a call.
- If cellphone usage is essential, require the use of hands-free cellphones.
- Ensure that all employees know state cell phone laws. Provide training that covers state laws and have employees sign statements acknowledging that they understand these laws.
- Limit the length of calls. While this will do little to decrease liability in the event of an accident, it may decrease the likelihood of an accident.
- Ban all personal calls while driving.
- Require all employees to sign statements of sole liability should a cellphone-based accident occur.
- Enforce all company cellphone rules. If an accident occurs, a company will want to be able to prove that it not only had a strict cellphone policy in place, but that it enforced that policy.
Driving while talking on the phone is a dangerous trend. In order to keep employees safe and companies protected from liability, it must be clear to all of your employees that such behavior will not be tolerated.