Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Do Your Employees Use Cell Phones While Driving?

If they are involved an accident while driving or texting, your company may be held liable for the damages. My client, Zoom Safer, issued a great white paper on this topic. Their paper accurately describes the growing problem of distracted driving and the legal issues involved. I highly recommend that you give it a read here.

The following excerpt from their paper summarizes the issue perfectly:

Yoon v. Wagner, a case from Virginia serves as an excellent cautionary tale in this regard. In Yoon, a pedestrian was struck and killed by a car driven by an attorney working for the law firm Cooley Godward. At the time of the accident, the attorney was talking on her cell phone with another lawyer. Even though the phone call occurred well outside of the normal time and space of the attorney‟s employment (the accident occurred at 10:30 pm), the court nevertheless held that the lawyer was within the scope of employment, thus subjecting Cooley Godward to vicarious liability. Despite the late hour of the accident, the court pointed out that part of the lawyer‟s job was to log billable hours through phone calls and that this particular call had been designed to benefit the attorney‟s firm. In the end, the lawyer was ordered to pay the plaintiffs $2 million out of her own pocket, and Cooley Godward settled with the plaintiffs for an additional undisclosed sum.

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