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Companies advance policies to limit cellphone accident liability

Distracted drivers are a risk to other motorists and passengers on the road. Now more companies are being held liable for accidents caused by delivery drivers and other employees using cell phones while behind the wheel. As the National Safety Council estimates that one-quarter of all crashes involve cellphone or texting, companies are facing lawsuits for distracted driving accidents caused by their employees.

Companies with policies that allow their employees to talk while behind the wheel are increasing the risk of car accidents and exposing themselves to liability. Courts and juries agree that these corporations should be held accountable:

  • A federal magistrate ordered an Alabama trucking company to pay $18 million for an accident caused by a driver using a cellphone.
  • A jury awarded $21.6 million to a Florida family after they were hit by a cable company representative.
  • A 78-year-old woman was awarded $16.1 million after she was crippled by a lumber company salesman
  • International paper settled for $5.2 million after an employee caused an accident that resulted in a woman losing her arm

Many of these companies are eager to work out a settlement knowing that lawyers can obtain cellphone records of their drivers. Fear of cellphone use has outranked the fear of drunk driving for many drivers. With the high-risk of cellphone use and distracted driving, more employers need to be aware and accountable for the drivers they send out on the road. Safety advocates hope that the liability and the risk inspire company policies for better driving behaviors and the reduction of cellphone use behind the wheel.

Source: The Journal Gazette, "Cell use at wheel creates liability," Ashley Hasley, May 27, 2012.