Employers who encourage their workers to stay connected at all times should be mindful that if those times include while the employee is operating a vehicle, the employer could be deemed liable for the resulting injuries. This could come about in one of two ways:
- Vicarious liability. Plaintiffs need not show the company was negligent, only that the driver who was negligent was acting in the course and scope of an employment at the time of the crash. An employee who is distracted by a work-related call could be found to have been acting in the course and scope of employment, even if he or she wasn’t technically on-the-clock.
- Direct negligence. Companies that compel or expect workers to be available at all times – even knowing some of those times will be while the worker is driving – could be found directly negligent for a distracted-driving crash involving a worker. This is why an increasing number of companies are attempting to shield themselves from liability with anti- distracted driving policies.
Despite knowing that distraction is one of the top causes of roadway accidents, many employers still fail to take this important initiative.