An article in today’s Fulton County Daily Report clearly emphasizes the need for all employers to develop and implement a policy regarding the usage of mobile phones by their employees when operating a motor vehicle. The article was about a $2 million settlement that a local employer recently agreed to in a case involving a motor vehicle accident. The employer’s employee rear ended another vehicle while the employee was “rummaging for her cellphone.”
The article did not address whether the employer had a policy regarding the use of mobile phones by its employees while driving, but a safe guess would be that one did not exist or that if one did exist, it did not explicitly forbid employees from using their mobile phones for business purposes while operating a motor vehicle. As explained in my recent article on Georgia’s ban on texting while driving (click here to read), the adoption and consistent enforcement of a policy prohibiting the use of mobile phones for business purposes by employees while operating a motor vehicle would have provided the employer involved in the above situation a strong defense to any claim of liability on its part for the accident that occurred, if the cause of the accident was the employee being distracted due to looking for their mobile phone.
At a minimum, all Georgia employers should adopt policies that prohibit their employees from texting for business purposes while operating a motor vehicle, as that conduct is now prohibited by Georgia law. The failure to adopt and consistently enforce such a policy could expose the employer to liability for punitive, as well as ordinary damages, for any motor vehicle accident involving their employee, which accident was caused by the employee’s texting for business purposes.