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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 ahandheld cell phone while zipping along the highway. But if he orshe causes a crash due to driving while distracted, you could losea chunk of capital if a court holds you responsible for theaccident.

Employer liability for workers involved in cell-phone-relatedcar accidents while on company business isn't confined to theworkweek. According to a Runzheimer survey, 74 percent ofbusinesses allow employees personal use of fleet vehicles. So evenif a fender-bender occurs during downtime, "you could be heldresponsible for negligent supervision or negligent implementationof policies," warns Joseph Martan, staff counsel for theLiability Insurance Research Bureau, who adds that more and morestates are considering banning the use of handheld cell phoneswhile driving.

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