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Cell Phone Use Raises Liability Issues
Probably all of us have been annoyed by the blare of cell phones ringing in practically every locale imaginable. However, most of us have also likely been thankful for cell phone access either in an emergency or for the sake of convenience. No doubt, there are negative and positive aspects of cell phone usage, and the cell phone debate rages on. The debate, however, has been taken in a new direction recently, as the issue of legal liability stemming from cell phone usage reaches the courts.
New wave of
Yoon's family has sued Cooley Godward under the legal theory of "respondeat superior," alleging that the law firm should be liable for the wrongful death of Yoon because the firm did not take public safety into consideration when it encouraged and profited from its associate's use of her cell phone. The lawsuit seeks $30 million in damages from Cooley Godward.
For both types of employers, an official written policy on cell phone use should be created. As to those employers who do not want their employees using cell phones for business purposes, the policy should clearly state a prohibition on such use.
For employers who condone employee cell phone use, the policy should take into account particular circumstances. For example, employers should think carefully about whether they want their employees talking on their cell phones for business purposes while driving. If the answer is "no," then the official written policy should so state in very certain terms. If the answer is "yes," the employer may wish to mandate the use of hands-free devices; the employer also may wish to preclude cell phone usage while driving during adverse weather, traffic and visibility conditions.
The official written policy should be developed with the help of experienced counsel in this area, and it should be distributed to and signed by all employees.
An employer thus should be apprised of the laws where employees will be driving when drafting an effective cell phone policy.
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