Cell Phone Car Accident Liability Lawyers

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When Can an Employer be Liable for Cell Phone Use?

Under the doctrine of vicarious responsibility, employers may be held legally accountable for the negligent acts of employees committed in the course of employment.  Generally, this means anything they do while at work will legally reflect back on the company.  Cell-phones have expanded that area of liability by allowing any employee anywhere to be "in the course of employment" simply by using his cell phone to make a business call.

If an employer provides cellular phones, or if cellular phone use is a necessary part of a job, then that employer can be liable for problems created by their employee's use of cell phones while driving or otherwise working for the employer.   Sometimes the employee does not even need to be making a business related call.  If the phone itself is company issue, the employer may be held liable for it wherever or however its used.

This is especially concerning to employers when it comes to driving, since a employee's car accident could end up costing tens of millions of dollars in litigation to the employer.

I am a Small Business Owner, What Can I Do Limit Liability for my Employees Cell Phone Use?

While it is generally not possible to completely eliminate the possibility of liability, strictly enforced rules regarding employee behavior will go great lengths into any claims that you were negligent.  There are a number of measures you can take to show that you were properly concerned for the safety of both the public and your employees:
 

If I am Involved in a Cell-Phone Related Car Accident, What Should I Do?

The first thing you should do, regardless of how you are involved, is to contact an attorney.  

If you were hit by someone who was using a cell-phone:  An attorney will be able to find out if the person was acting "in the course of employment" when he hit you, and possibly file a lawsuit against their employer for far more than you could receive from the person alone.  A good lawyer will maximize the return you can get for your damages.

If you were the one on the cell-phone: An attorney will be essential in protecting your rights.  If you were using your phone for business, your employer will likely try to deny any responsibility and blame the accident entirely on you.  And even if you are hit  by someone, the very fact that you were on a cell-phone, even if it had nothing to do with the accident, can suddenly make you liable.  A good attorney (who may be provided by your insurance company) will be able to protect you from lawsuits and explain all your options to you.  But if your employer hires a lawyer for you, realize that his first priority may be to protect the company, not you, so consulting an outside attorney is always helpful.

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Last Modified: 08-10-2011 03:29 PM PDT

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