As smartphone technology and hands-free devices continue to develop, it’s becoming more and more common to see company employees conducting business while driving. However, using a cell phone—hands-free or otherwise—can take a driver’s attention and focus completely away from the road. This constitutes “distracted driving,” which is responsible for over 400,000 driving-related injuries each year. But when an accident happens, and a plaintiff is injured, there is a looming question about which party is ultimately liable for the accident: the company employee or the company.
This situation is often considered a legal gray area. In a recent article released by Enterprise Mobility Exchange, author Steven Lerner addresses this question by reviewing an old case and discussing this specific scenario with various lawyers. Several years ago, an attorney caused a car accident while taking a work-related phone call. Because the attorney was doing firm-related business during the incident, the law firm was ultimately found liable for the accident and the other driver’s death.
Lerner decided to interview lawyers who are highly respected in the field of personal injury law, including our very own Thomas J. Simeone, trial attorney and managing partner at Simeon & Miller, LLP. In the article, Attorney Simeone states, “Even though it did not direct the attorney to make the call at that time, as long as the attorney was acting in the scope of her employment, the law firm was responsible for her negligence. If an employee is using a cell phone for business while driving—even if the ride is for personal, rather than business, purposes—the company may be liable for any accident.”
It’s important to note that there are circumstances where a company may not be considered liable for an accident. For example, if an employee is doing personal business while using a company cell phone, then it’s the employee who is ultimately liable for his or her own actions. However, if an employee is doing work business on a personal cell phone, then the company may be held liable. Ultimately, it all depends on if an employee is acting within the scope of their employment and the individual circumstances of each case.
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At Simeone & Miller, LLP, we are dedicated to providing our clients with compassionate counsel and exceptional legal services. Our legal team is renowned for our innovative litigation techniques and groundbreaking case strategies. Attorney Simeone, in particular, is a highly regarded trial lawyer who often appears as a legal commentator for various news outlets and media programs. If you’ve been involved in a car accident due to the negligent actions of a distracted driver, our Washington, D.C. car accident lawyers can effectively represent your case in court.