Inter Law – Should Employers Pay

Should Employers Pay We should all know by now that certain things are illegal to do while driving. Some of them we agree with and some of them we don’t. While driving you can’t belt down shots of whiskey for every red mini you see and you can’t talk on your mobile phone. The former is a unanimously loved rule and the latter isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, but scientifically they’re just as dangerous as each other.

That’s right; you are just as inattentive when talking on a mobile while driving as you would be if you were drunk. It seems counter intuitive but having a sober phone conversation with your mum is as dangerous as taking mind altering drugs but, so long as in both cases you’re operating a heavy metal speeding vehicle, I’m afraid it’s so. Studies carried out by the AA Trust have shown that drivers are 4 times more likely to be involved in an accident while using a mobile phone.

We would justifiably vilify and hold responsible any business that sent out drunken employees to do work that involved driving but would we feel the same way about a company that expects employees to conduct phone conversations while on the road?

It’s a tough question to answer, but Personal Injury Lawyers are emphatically saying “yes!” and are willing to reach into employers deep pockets to compensate their clients if they can.

Mobile phones have provided for fantastic business opportunities and allow work to be carried out in a far more flexible and dynamic way. However, some of this business is being done in inappropriate places such as a moving car.

Vanessa McGrogan was on her company proivded phone when she failed to notice a car in front of her an a collision ensued. A $5.2 million settlement was reached for the accident in which a woman’s car was forced off the road and her arm was later amputated.

“The question is whether you’re doing the employer’s business [on a mobile],” said H.J.A. Alexander, attorney for Pamela Hunter, a hair stylist in America who seriously injured in a similar crash and paid $750,000 by Modern Continental Construction Co.

“My case was clear: The company provided the phone and she was on the job,” McArthur added.

“Sophisticated employers are saying, ‘We need a policy,’ ” said Atlanta attorney Stephen Schatz, who defended Modern Continental.”If you’re going to or from work [and you crash], your employer is not liable. But if you’re using the phone for business purposes — even with your own phone — [the business] can be held liable.”

In the UK it has been illegal to talk on a mobile phone while driving since December 2003, fines range from £30 to £1000 for your average motorist and maximum of a £2500 fine for drivers of vans, busses, trucks and other large vehicles. You won’t get any points but plans are underway to raise the fine and add three points to any license belonging to someone caught on a mobile phone. The only calls you are allowed to make are emergency 999 calls and calls made using hands free sets. Although there are some side effects caused by this law as it requires drivers to be in control of their vehicle at all times. This means that the police can pull you over and issue you a fine if they see you distracted by things like eating a sandwich, shaving, or drinking from a bottle while driving.

While these fees may be stiff they are nothing when compared to the penalties for driving while drunk and in some way the government is sending out a mixed message on the dangers involved. In the meantime, however, Personal Injury Lawyers are keen to hammer home the point.

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