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SOURCE Gozdecki, Del Giudice, Americus & Farkas LLP
Protect Your Company from the Distracted Employee-Driver
CHICAGO, Jan. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Effective January 1, 2014, Illinois law bans the use of handheld devices while driving. This ban includes cell phones, personal digital assistants and mobile computers. The new law permits the use of hands-free or voice-activated phones or devices, including the use of a headset. Illinois joins the City of Chicago and dozens of municipalities across the state that already ban the use of handheld devices while driving. This new law impacts every employer whose employees and/or agents drive during the course of their jobs, and exposes such employers to potential liability for accidents caused by employees or agents who violate the new law. Therefore, it is important for employers to immediately formulate a policy restricting the use of handheld devices while driving.
An employer may be liable under different theories of liability. Among them, employers can be held liable if the employee or agent was acting in the scope of his or her employment/agency at the time of the accident. A person acts within the scope of employment or agency if he or she (1) is engaging in conduct of the kind he or she is retained to perform; (2) the conduct occurs at an authorized time and place; and (3) the action is undertaken for the benefit of the employer. Employers can also be responsible for negligent supervision if they fail to train their employees and agents, or if they fail to enforce rules that apply to their employees or agents. There also exists the possibility of claims for punitive damages if the employer knew of the risks associated with driving while using a handheld device, and demonstrated indifference to the safety of others by failing to restrict their uses.
The best means to avoid or limit potential liability is for employers to make sure they implement a policy restricting the use of handheld devices while driving. If it is not necessary for employees to use a handheld device while driving, the employer should prohibit the use of handheld devices while driving. If employees must use a handheld device as part of their job responsibilities, employers should make certain the handheld devices provided to employees are capable of hands-free operation, should restrict any use to hands-free operation only, and should properly train employees to use the hands-free device. Employers should update employee handbooks and other documents to reflect these policies.
If you have any questions concerning this change in Illinois law, or would like assistance in updating your policies, please contact us.
The attorneys at Gozdecki, Del Giudice, Americus & Farkas LLP are prepared to answer any questions you may have regarding this Business Law Alert, and to assist you in reviewing and/or modifying any policies affected by the new law. If you would like to speak with an attorney about any of the issues raised in this Business Law Alert, please contact your servicing attorney/contact, or send an email to email@example.com. Information contained in this Business Law Alert should not be construed as legal advice or opinion.
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