Settlement Signals Corporate Liability For Personal Cell Phone Use

Even when a cell phone is the personal property of an employee, a company might be liable for some of the damages and injuries that occur in an automobile accident if talking business on the cell phone contributed to the accident. Rather than letting a district court in Pennsylvania issue its ruling, Smith Barney recently agreed to a $500,000 settlement in a case in which a motorcyclist was killed when the driver -- a Smith Barney broker who was talking on his cellular phone -- dropped it, bent down to get it, and ran a red light. The National Institute of Business, McLean, Va., suggests that companies who expect their employees to use car phones for business implement a policy that requires employees to pull over to the side of the road when there is a need to conduct business on the cellular phone.

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