Safety organizations aren't the only ones taking notice of the nationwide toll of distracted driving. Businesses and corporations are beginning to realize the liability issues when employees get in wrecks because they're texting, talking, or even surfing the internet behind the wheel.
The National Safety Council has made a "case for comprehensive cell phone policies" by employers. On average, employers incur $150,000 for every collision resulting in injury.
The benefits of a policy banning employee cell phone use behind the wheel are attractive for both corporations and the public. As state and local governments continue to crack down on technology that leads to distracted driving, it is in the best interests of companies in the private sector to do the same with their employees.
Liability Issues Concerning Distracted Driving
Cell phone use occupies the visual, cognitive, and manual skills it takes to operate a motor vehicle safely. It's no wonder the outcome of distracted driving is so often a car accident.
Generally, the person who was texting or otherwise distracted behind the wheel is liable for your injuries in the event of an accident. However, liability may extend to the driver's employer if:
- The employee was driving distracted while operating a company car
- The employee was using a company-issued cell phone to conduct business while driving
- The employee was conducting company business on his or her personal phone while driving
Corporations may strive to reduce liability in these cases by instituting cell phone policies. However, simply having a policy may not be enough. Companies have a responsibility to train employees so they can abide by the policies as well.
For example, if salespeople are expected to take incoming calls even when they are traveling, such an expectation may contradict the company's stated prohibition on cell phone use behind the wheel. In the event of an accident, the company's failure to enforce its own policy could open the business to liability.
Impact on Profits
Juries across the country have handed out multi-million-dollar verdicts in cases where a company was found liable for distracted driving accidents involving employees. Judgments and settlements, the costs of litigation – all of these eat into profits.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that corporations want to protect themselves from the financial, time, and public image expenses of auto accident lawsuits involving their employees.
Negligence on the company's part negatively affects the bottom line. Therefore, it is in the best interests of companies to limit the incidence of distracted driving accidents where employees are driving company cars, using company-issue cell phones, and/or conducting company business.
What to Do If You Were in a Distracted Driving Accident
At the time of the accident, you likely won't have any idea if the other driver was distracted, let alone if he or she was operating in some kind of employee capacity. When you contact Gardner & Rans P.C., our attorneys will take action on your behalf. We will investigate all aspects of the collision, including the parties that may be liable for your injuries.
Please call 574-233-6035 for a complimentary evaluation of your case. Gardner & Rans P.C. serves clients in and around South Bend, Indiana.