Employer Liability in Distracted Driving Accidents

Posted By Matthew Clawson || 19-Jun-2017

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.

Vicarious Liability

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.

Negligent Entrustment

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.

Categories: Car Accident

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