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Employers who mix cellphones with driving are sued

When someone is injured in a car accident in the Seattle area, a personal injury attorney will often investigate the accident to see whether negligence was a factor. When negligence contributes to an accident, compensation for medical treatment, funeral expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering may be obtained.

Most often, it turns out a driver was negligent behind the wheel, but sometimes the fault can lie with a city or county authority for not maintaining roads or signs. Additionally, a private entity like a construction company may have caused the crash. Lately, a new party is frequently found to be somewhat responsible for car accidents: driver's employers.

About one-quarter of all car accidents involve cellphone use of some kind, according to the National Safety Council. And employers who require or encourage their employees to use a cell phone on the road--whether in a company car or personal vehicle--have been held financially responsible for accidents and injuries that took place.

While many of these cases are handled out of court, many have also been tried before a jury. In one case, an Arkansas company paid out $16.1 million after one of its salesmen was in an accident that left an elderly woman disabled.

As a result of the recent trend of holding these employers accountable, many large companies have banned cellphone use while driving. While some companies have worried the move would cut productivity, only seven percent of those with bans reported a decline in productivity, while 19 percent actually reported an increase.

Whatever the effect is on productivity, safety must always come first. The risks of distracted driving have been proven by many, many car accidents. Businesses who put their own employees and the public at risk by encouraging cell phone use behind the wheel will continue to be held accountable.

Source: Journal Gazette, "Cell use at wheel creates liability," Ayesha Hasley III, May 27, 2012

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