In December 2011 the National Transportation Safety Board recommended a nationwide ban on cell phone use while driving, even with a hands free device. This is in addition to the previously proposed ban on hand-held cell phone use for commercial truck and bus drivers that was issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation in December 2010.
The independent NTSB doesn’t have the power to push this recommendation through to law, but as the nation’s leading federal safety advocate its recommendations carry weight in both the Congress and the White House. It will be up to state legislatures, which have already banned text messaging while driving in 35 states and the District of Columbia, to decide whether cell phone use should be illegal.
It is no secret that distracted driving, some of it due to cell phone use, causes thousands of accidents each year and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “contributed to an estimated 3,092 deaths in highway crashes last year”. This increase in distracted driving accidents has led to an increase in workers’ compensation claims by employees as well as liability lawsuits against employers directly.
There are several different claims that can be made following a work-related distracted driving accident caused by an employee’s use of a cell phone. First of all, a claim can be made by the employee who was using the cell phone and thus caused the accident, against his employer for worker’s compensation benefits. The workers’ compensation system is a “no fault” system which leaves the employer liable for the payment of benefits to the employee including temporary disability benefits, medical treatment and permanent disability benefits.
Claims can also be made by any co-employee passengers against the employer under workers’ compensation for injuries sustained while on the job. Anyone else injured in the accident may be able to file a liability claim against the employer for their employee’s distracted driving conduct.
If you have any questions about your rights after a motor vehicle accident while in the course of your employment, give the attorney’s at Stark & Stark a call and we can help you sort out the appropriate claims to file. Our workers’ compensation attorneys offer free consultations in both our Lawrenceville and Marlton offices.