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Employer Liability in Distracted Driving Accidents

Employer Liability in Distracted Driving Accidents

Cell phones first became a popular business tool back in the 1980s when they were tethered to vehicles but allowed businesspeople to stay connected to their offices at nearly any time. Because they were so rare and reserved strictly for those with the ability to afford both the device and the phone, they weren’t much of an issue. Today, nearly everyone has a cell phone, and research has shown that using cell phones while driving is a huge contributor to distracted driving accidents.

However, because businesses are more mobile and reactive than ever, some employers require workers to keep their phones with them at all times for communication. In some cases, the phone is used strictly for calls, but in others it might also be used as a navigation device or to receive instructions or service calls that should be attended to. Drivers for popular rideshare services Uber and Lyft rely on their phones for everything from connecting with passengers to navigating. All of this contributes to a much larger percentage of drivers who are distracted in some way, and contributed to distracted driving’s rapid rise up the car accident causes list.

Holding Employers Responsible

Employers who require and expect their workers to use a cell phone in some way while driving must recognize the immense risk they are exposing their workers and their business to, however, it’s remarkable how many seem perfectly complacent with the practice. Some studies have estimated that using a cell phone while driving can make you four times more likely to be involved in an accident, and the number goes even higher when that use involves some form of messaging, like sending or reading text messages or emails.

What’s worse, when it comes to determining the negligence involved in a car accident, employers could be held liable if they require or encourage their employees to use cell phones while driving. This essentially requires employees to distract themselves, which tremendously increases their risk of an accident. As a result, an Albuquerque workers’ compensation attorney will often use the discovery process to find out that an employee was required to use their cell phone, and then attempt to demonstrate that this cell phone use is what caused the accident and injuries to an employee, which means an employer could be held liable for the injury claim.

Employers can prevent this by instead creating and enforcing a culture that bans the use of cell phones while driving. A 2009 study of 469 National Safety Council members who had implemented total cell phone bans while driving found that only one percent of these companies had experienced a drop in productivity. In fact, a 2010 study of Fortune 500 companies found that nearly 20 percent of companies who banned cell phone use believed productivity actually increased as a result.

This could also mean employers save a fair amount of money on their expenses as well. Injuries are already a tremendous financial burden, but reducing your potential risks by creating and strictly enforcing a no cell phones while driving policy, which could in turn save you money by reducing claims against you, making workers’ compensation insurance cheaper, and more.

In honor of National Safety Month, be sure to inform and educate workers on the dangers of cell phone use while driving, and always make sure to strictly enforce the highest standards of safety while they are out on the roads, no matter what purpose it might be for.

If you have been injured in a car accident while on the job as a result of mandatory cell phone use, you should speak with an Albuquerque personal injury attorney to learn more about your rights and options. Call Michael J. Doyle, Attorney At Law today at 505-219-2176 to request a free consultation and review your case!


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