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Quiet, Please

Guess who's responsible when employees irresponsibly mix cell phone and vehicle use?

This story appears in the June 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Your hotshot salesperson may boast of sealing deals on a handheld cell phone while zipping along the highway. But if he or she causes a crash due to driving while distracted, you could lose a chunk of capital if a court holds you responsible for the accident.

Employer liability for workers involved in cell-phone-related car accidents while on company business isn't confined to the workweek. According to a Runzheimer survey, 74 percent of businesses allow employees personal use of fleet vehicles. So even if a fender-bender occurs during downtime, "you could be held responsible for negligent supervision or negligent implementation of policies," warns Joseph Martan, staff counsel for the Liability Insurance Research Bureau, who adds that more and more states are considering banning the use of handheld cell phones while driving.

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