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Ask a Coverage Expert: Hands-Free Devices and District Liability

Recently, a Pool member asked us a great question about hands-free devices being used while operating district-owned vehicles. The question was: would a district be held liable if an employee was in an accident while operating a district-owned vehicle and using a hands-free mobile phone device that the district itself had purchased?

Hands-free deviceThe answer is that the district will generally be held liable for any actions or decisions that a district employee makes when they are conducted as part of the “course and scope” of their job duties. This would include the operation of both a district-owned vehicle or a personal vehicle while on district business and can include the liability of distracted driving whether a district-owned or non-owned cell phone or hands-free device is involved.

If the district has a policy restricting the use of a cell phone while operating district-owned equipment or vehicles and the employee violates this policy and is personally injured, then a 50% reduction in workers’ compensation can be applied for violating a district safety policy, but third party liability still exists.

If you have a question for one of our coverage experts, please send it to csdpool@mcgriff.com. We’ll be happy to answer it for you, and we just might print it in our next issue of The Risk Management Review for others to learn from as well.

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