Distracted driving is a major problem amongst drivers across the country,
accounting for approximately 28% of all crashes every year, or 1.6 million
crashes. Smartphone usage is a major part of these numbers. In the past,
these devices were considered a luxury, but now almost every adult and
teenager has one, giving them the irresistible ability to access the world
through their fingertips. For individuals whose jobs place them on the
road, the law addresses the situation a little differently, allowing accident
victims to hold employers liable as well.
Costs to Employers
Businesses that allow employees to use phones while driving face a range
of liabilities such as financial losses resulting from legal judgments,
increased insurance premiums, worker’s compensation claims, and
fines and repair costs. They might also risk the business’s reputation
or slowed operations. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA), on the job crashes typically cost employers over
$24,500 per crash, $128,000 per injury, and $ 3.8 million per fatality.
This type of liability states that an employer can be held liable for harm
caused by an employee, which may also include independent contractors
as long as there is an agency relationship. For an employer to be held
vicariously liable for the action of an employee, those actions must fall
within the scope of his or her employment. If, for example, a driver harms
someone while making deliveries, those actions are within the scope of
employment and the employer can be held vicariously liable.
Negligent Hiring, Supervision, and Retention
Most states recognize this legal doctrine. For liability to attach to an
employer, three elements must be proven:
- The employers that hire employees must train them for every foreseeable
job responsibility if not doing so could cause harm.
- Employers have a duty to properly hire, train, and supervise their employees.
Failure to do so is a breach of duty.
- There must be a causal link between the conduct of an employee and a victim’s injury.
In cases involving commercial operations, negligent entrustment occurs
when an employer allows an employee to use a vehicle knowing, or having
sufficient reason to know, that the employee might pose a risk to others
by using the vehicle. So, if an employer knew of that it was likely an
employ would engage in distracted driving, he or she can be held liable
for an accident caused by the employee’s unsafe driving. Evidence
can include calls made from the employee to other employees or customers,
or sending texts or emails while driving during business hours.
Liability in Unexpected Circumstances
It is also possible for liability to be found in cases where one might
not expect liability to exist. This includes:
- Distracted driving accidents caused even when an employer has cell phone
policies in place.
- Distracted driving accidents that occur when a driver is using a company
car for personal reasons.
- Distracted driving accidents that occur when an employee is making a personal
call on a company cell phone.
- Distracted driving accidents that occur when employees are using a personal
phone while driving a personal car.
The key here is that the distraction must be business-related in order
for liability to apply to an employer.
A phone policy in itself cannot absolve employers of liability. They must
make an active effort to prevent distracted driving that goes beyond policy,
such as auditing and compliance monitoring.
Distracted Driving Car Accident Lawyers in Colorado Springs
Looking away from the road for even a moment can lead to potentially devastating
consequences. At Clawson & Clawson, LLP, we are committed Colorado
Springs car accident attorneys who will advocate on your behalf if you
have been injured by a distracted or texting driver. You should not have
to pay for the negligent and careless actions of another. Our legal team
will help you fight for the compensation you deserve for your pain and
suffering, to ensure you are able to move forward with your recovery without
being overwhelmed by steep medical expenses.
As such, we understand finances might be tight right now, which is why
we operate on a contingency fee basis. This means you will not owe us
any legal fees until we recover compensation for you. If we cannot win
your case, you do not have to pay a single cent.
Schedule a free consultation with a skilled member of our legal team. Call
us at (719) 602-5888 to get started on your case today.