Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

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Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by neurosphere »

Not sure if this is the appropriate forum/board, but...

I have two jobs where I often need to call people who are out and about, or they need to call me. Many times, they are in the car, driving, when they answer (or when they call me and I answer).

In my physician job, I refuse to talk to them unless they stop driving. It's just my rule and there are no exceptions. If it's important enough to talk to the doctor about, it's important that I have to have their undivided attention. Besides, I'm an 'expert' in distracted driving. And by expert I mean that I've closely studied the available research for 10-15 hours in preparation for a local tv news spot I did on the issue. :D Talking in the car on the phone, even on a speakerphone, kills. The evidence is pretty conclusive. :?

But in my other professional job, I essentially work "for" the client. And it's happened several times where I have suggested I prefer to talk at another time, and that I was uncomfortable that they were driving, but the client insisted that this was the time they had available. This makes me nervous, and I literally have anxiety at the thought that there will be an accident during the conversation and I will consider myself partially responsible simply to "make a buck".

Issues:
1) I wonder about legal liability. I assume there is none. It is the driver who is choosing to have the conversation. But...?
2) I wonder about what a client might think if I simply refuse to have the conversation, and insist on rescheduling. Is it that unreasonable for me not to have the conversation?

Just today, I received a call from a person in the car, and the caller stated she would be home soon. So I said "hey, no worries, give me a call in a few minutes". But nope, she insisted we have the talk at that time, because she wanted to do other things when she got home. I have a feeling people would be unhappy with me if I refused to talk to them. That's not good for business. Will I lose clients, or get bad review or just generally $&*(#@ people off if I don't accept/make calls during a time when a substantial number of people conduct business (i.e. while driving)? :confused

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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by Archimedes »

Some types of driving require lots of focus, others not so much. If you are driving on a clear day without traffic on a divided highway, talking is relatively safe. If you are driving in a crowded urban area with lots of vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians, then full concentration is needed.

But I don't think you are at risk if someone else chooses to speak to you while driving. I would recommend you politely ask if they would prefer to speak when they don't need to focus on driving safely. If they decline despite your suggestion, then I would think the liability is on them.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by H-Town »

I like your principle. Stand by it! I don't talk or text while driving either and I expect responsible drivers to do the same. In your case, just be honest and forthcoming with your client. Tell them that you will receive their callback once they get to their destination.

As far as liability, my firm is liable if the employee uses the phone call for business while driving and get into an accident. I can imagine that it's not out of the realm of possibilities that your client will sue you if they get into an accident. I know that's bogus and it will not get pass any reasonable jury. But as a professional, you should have a liability insurance. I don't know if it covers the cell phone case but it might.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by dbr »

Talking on a cell phone while driving may be illegal in some jurisdictions. I have no idea if there is a legal theory involving the person spoken to as an accomplice or co-conspirator. It would seem quite far-fetched.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by sergeant »

A suit against you for damages sustained by a distracted driver would be no more successful than a suit against you by a caller who heeded your advice and was injured while calling from their home.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

Good for you! I don’t know the legalities, but perhaps your point will be taken by the irresponsible ones.

Anyone texting me while I’m driving gets an automated reply that I am not getting text notifications (thanks Apple). It advises them that, if it’s urgent, to call me, which would then go to my car’s Bluetooth. If called, I can either get the gist of what is so urgent quickly, or pull over and take the call. Note that I might be using Tesla AutoPilot at the time, which is pretty darned good, but I still want to be engaged in the monitoring of the drive.

I see countless people driving while on their cell phones all the time. They’re asking for it. As someone sharing the road with them, I’m not.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by ralph124cf »

In my area talking on a hand held cell phone while driving is against the law, but hands free speakerphones are allowed.

With regards to driving while distracted by talking itself, perhaps we need to prohibit police officers from talking on the radio while driving? Do we need to prohibit pilots from talking of the radio while flying? Some will say that the copilot usually talks on the radio, but there are many airplanes flying around with a single pilot on board, and no auto-pilot.

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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by DanMahowny »

I talk via speakerphone while driving frequently.

Otherwise, I'll talk to whoever is in the car with me.

Personally, I don't see the difference.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by Pajamas »

I flat-out refuse to talk to people who are driving and did so when I was working. The issue of liability never crossed my mind, but the thought that they might have an accident and be injured or killed or cause someone else to be injured or killed while I was talking to them on the phone did. I would not want to contribute to that in even a minor way. I really didn't care what they thought about it because what I thought about it was enough.
ralph124cf wrote: Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:12 pm In my area talking on a hand held cell phone while driving is against the law, but hands free speakerphones are allowed.

With regards to driving while distracted by talking itself, perhaps we need to prohibit police officers from talking on the radio while driving? Do we need to prohibit pilots from talking of the radio while flying? Some will say that the copilot usually talks on the radio, but there are many airplanes flying around with a single pilot on board, and no auto-pilot.

Ralph
Your examples are different because when a pilot or policeman talks on the radio, it is directly related to their work. Other conversations should indeed be banned.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by neurosphere »

I think one easy solution is to put it directly in my contract that if I happen to call and the client is in the car, or they call me from the car, that they will be instructed to find another time to have the discussion. I'd just as soon not get hired at all if anyone has a problem with that, and thus, moral dilemma solved!
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by neurosphere »

DanMahowny wrote: Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:18 pm I talk via speakerphone while driving frequently.

Otherwise, I'll talk to whoever is in the car with me.

Personally, I don't see the difference.
I can't get into the details, but this has been extensively studied. Some of the studies are quite nicely done. In fact, talking to someone IN the car can be safer that NO one being in the car at all (essentially, because there is another set of eyes. But also, depends on the age of the passenger). Talking while driving via phone is much different than talking to a person in the car. In a nutshell, it's because the people in the car self-regulate depending on driving conditions and/or understand the pauses/awkwardness/interruptions in the conversation which come about due to the conditions at the time.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by Kalo »

If it were me I would notify my clients verbally and in writing ahead of time and I would not engage in verbal conversations while either of you is driving. It is the right thing to do morally regardless of the legal issues. You are right that it is dangerous.

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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by ResearchMed »

neurosphere wrote: Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:34 pm Not sure if this is the appropriate forum/board, but...

I have two jobs where I often need to call people who are out and about, or they need to call me. Many times, they are in the car, driving, when they answer (or when they call me and I answer).

In my physician job, I refuse to talk to them unless they stop driving. It's just my rule and there are no exceptions. If it's important enough to talk to the doctor about, it's important that I have to have their undivided attention. Besides, I'm an 'expert' in distracted driving. And by expert I mean that I've closely studied the available research for 10-15 hours in preparation for a local tv news spot I did on the issue. :D Talking in the car on the phone, even on a speakerphone, kills. The evidence is pretty conclusive. :?

But in my other professional job, I essentially work "for" the client. And it's happened several times where I have suggested I prefer to talk at another time, and that I was uncomfortable that they were driving, but the client insisted that this was the time they had available. This makes me nervous, and I literally have anxiety at the thought that there will be an accident during the conversation and I will consider myself partially responsible simply to "make a buck".

Issues:
1) I wonder about legal liability. I assume there is none. It is the driver who is choosing to have the conversation. But...?
2) I wonder about what a client might think if I simply refuse to have the conversation, and insist on rescheduling. Is it that unreasonable for me not to have the conversation?

Just today, I received a call from a person in the car, and the caller stated she would be home soon. So I said "hey, no worries, give me a call in a few minutes". But nope, she insisted we have the talk at that time, because she wanted to do other things when she got home. I have a feeling people would be unhappy with me if I refused to talk to them. That's not good for business. Will I lose clients, or get bad review or just generally $&*(#@ people off if I don't accept/make calls during a time when a substantial number of people conduct business (i.e. while driving)? :confused

NS
I've stopped talking to someone who is driving, although it doesn't come up too often (fortunately). For now, it's for personal/moral reasons, not legal ones. Yet....
(We are both especially interested in distracted driving and drunk driving, so the subject and these posts caught my attention fast.)

In New Jersey, there was a case about this, but regarding texting, not speaking (links below are about the same case):

http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewc ... ntext=wmlr

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_ ... nding.html

http://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2013/ ... int_r.html

Bottom line, for now from this particular case, from two (of three) members of a NJ Appeals Court (the third judge dissented here):

"“We conclude that a person sending text messages has a duty not to text someone who is driving if the texter knows, or has special reason to know, the recipient will view the text while driving,” Superior Court Appellate Division Judge Victor Ashrafi wrote."

I suspect the tide is turning, much as the norms and then laws changed some time ago about drunk driving. A similar issue is the potential liability of bartenders or social hosts, thinking about the role/possible responsibility of the non-driving participant in texting or speaking by phone with someone driving.

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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by Kenkat »

I think your best bet is to put it in your contract with clients, upfront, no exceptions as you mentioned above. If you lose a few clients, hopefully you can absorb that financially.

While I don’t think you would ever be held liable, I do agree with you that driving and talking on the phone, even hands free, is very distracting. I have done this a few times in the past and realized I couldn’t really recall any details of the drive home besides the conversation. So I just stopped; I don’t even have my phone paired to my car and it either stays in my pocket or in the console if I am using Google maps for navigation.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by ofckrupke »

neurosphere wrote: Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:21 pm I think one easy solution is to put it directly in my contract that if I happen to call and the client is in the car, or they call me from the car, that they will be instructed to find another time to have the discussion. I'd just as soon not get hired at all if anyone has a problem with that, and thus, moral dilemma solved!
paraphrasing Comrade Yakushova, you're going to have fewer, better clients. :beer
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by whomever »

I talk via speakerphone while driving frequently.

Otherwise, I'll talk to whoever is in the car with me.

Personally, I don't see the difference.
I believe there is a difference, and think I've seen studies to that effect.

For an example, you're chatting away with a passenger while waiting for the green light on an on-ramp, or while just driving straight in your lane on a crowded freeway. When you accelerate down the ramp to merge, or start looking over your shoulder to change lanes, I think that passengers will unconsciously pause the conversation until the needs-full-concentration maneuver is completed - at least that's my experience. People on the other end of a phone line don't know you're merging. If your boss asks you a tough question right as you need to pay attention to driving, you either have an awkward pause or divide your attention. From what I see, many people are doing the latter, to the detriment of their driving.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by HornedToad »

dbr wrote: Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:49 pm Talking on a cell phone while driving may be illegal in some jurisdictions. I have no idea if there is a legal theory involving the person spoken to as an accomplice or co-conspirator. It would seem quite far-fetched.
That's why you use any number of hands-free devices to do so. Bluetooth, Ford Sync, etc.

I would assume you have no liability and if it's a sticking point for you then be prepared to have some clients take their business elsewhere. I would since you are effectively saying you don't trust your client to make good decisions and you know better than them; even though you aren't there and have no idea what they are doing.

Car companies provide voice sync for a reason, because people like to talk as they drive.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by neurosphere »

HornedToad wrote: Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:06 pm I would since you are effectively saying you don't trust your client to make good decisions and you know better than them; even though you aren't there and have no idea what they are doing.
As a physician, I am assumed to know "better" than my "clients", or else they wouldn't be coming to me in the first place. This is an area where the science I am familiar with is in my sphere of knowledge. :wink:
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by HornedToad »

neurosphere wrote: Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:35 pm
HornedToad wrote: Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:06 pm I would since you are effectively saying you don't trust your client to make good decisions and you know better than them; even though you aren't there and have no idea what they are doing.
As a physician, I am assumed to know "better" than my "clients", or else they wouldn't be coming to me in the first place. This is an area where the science I am familiar with is in my sphere of knowledge. :wink:
You know better about their health. That doesn't mean you can make life decisions for them in all areas.

I'm assuming you also will tell your clients that you don't take any clients that have trampolines in the backyard since that's also dangerous.

I buy cars with voice sync for a reason, it makes talking on the phone while driving relatively painless. If it's something i need to pay attention to then I say hold on for a couple minutes.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by ofckrupke »

HornedToad wrote: Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:39 pm You know better about their health. That doesn't mean you can make life decisions for them in all areas.
Right. They get to make the decision about whether to hire him, or retain him, on his terms.
HornedToad wrote: Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:39 pm I buy cars with voice sync for a reason, it makes talking on the phone while driving relatively painless. If it's something i need to pay attention to then I say hold on for a couple minutes.
Your personal choices seem tangential to this topic, at best.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by LarryAllen »

There is little doubt that you are correct that phone conversations create distracted driving. However, I personally would refuse to do business with someone that wouldn't talk to me while driving. Maybe one day that will be the norm but for now talking on the bluetooth phone is the norm while driving. It's hard to imagine any reasonable lawsuit but heck there is always a starving lawyer willing to take a case. Having said that, if this concerns you there are a whole lot of other issues that probably cause you to lose sleep too. Life has some risk to it. You just have to decide what level is acceptable to you.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by jhfenton »

I agree with the suggestions to be up front and put it in your contract. It makes it feel less personal than if you bring it up when the situation arises.

I know, given my personality--analytical, laidback, but suspicious of authority--that I would probably not react well in the spur of the moment to being.given an ultimatum and being told that I was not capable of safely carrying on a phone conversation while driving.

Sheesh, doctors think they know everything. I've never had an accident or received a ticket in 30+ years of driving, what does he know about my driving ability? :annoyed

But in the calm of an office before the situation arose, it wouldn't be about me, and my analytical side would either accept it or write it off as your quirk. :beer

(I seldom talk on the phone when I'm driving, but when I do I let the person know that I may have to tune them out at times during the call. It's usually my wife, to be honest, so she gets it.)
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by itstoomuch »

about 10 years ago, my then 1st year med student nephew, was visiting his grandmother ( I was the caregiver). He was driving down the hill and texting. I told him that he's with grandma and he shouldn't do texting while driving. He said that he does it all the time and knows how to do this safely :oops:
I told him to pull over, and I will drive. He didn't like this but he did comply. He called home and complained to mommy (my older sister). He's an Only, his grandfather is an MD, his father is nationally well known in his field, his other grandfather was nationally well known in his field. He's practicing, family MD, Sept 2017. Hope he does right.

ToughSh+t. I will not ride with anyone who texts or uses the phone while driving.
Tell the client your reason. Lose the client. I (not a MD or anything related to) personally would not be comfortable if there was to be accident and someone got hurt.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by Watty »

In the last five years I have been rear ended twice by people that were very likely using a cell phone when they hit me, not that they would admit it.

They were both just fender benders and one was really minor since traffic was stop and go and moving less than five miles an hour.

In the other I was stopped at a stop light long before they just rear-ended me without even slowing down.

Guess how I would vote. :beer
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by Cruise »

OP: +1 re articulating your stance in your engagement agreement. Re liability, I’d say it is enormous in your case because you have already been on TV, being quoted on this very issue. Should a plaintiff’s counsel discover you were on the phone, you would be red meat to an attack dog.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by Fallible »

neurosphere wrote: Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:21 pm I think one easy solution is to put it directly in my contract that if I happen to call and the client is in the car, or they call me from the car, that they will be instructed to find another time to have the discussion. I'd just as soon not get hired at all if anyone has a problem with that, and thus, moral dilemma solved!
What's most important is that a driver not cause an accident. I think a contract and strictly enforcing it is a solution. You could also run the contract past an attorney who could also advise you about liability.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by unclescrooge »

Pajamas wrote: Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:19 pm I flat-out refuse to talk to people who are driving and did so when I was working. The issue of liability never crossed my mind, but the thought that they might have an accident and be injured or killed or cause someone else to be injured or killed while I was talking to them on the phone did. I would not want to contribute to that in even a minor way. I really didn't care what they thought about it because what I thought about it was enough.
ralph124cf wrote: Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:12 pm In my area talking on a hand held cell phone while driving is against the law, but hands free speakerphones are allowed.

With regards to driving while distracted by talking itself, perhaps we need to prohibit police officers from talking on the radio while driving? Do we need to prohibit pilots from talking of the radio while flying? Some will say that the copilot usually talks on the radio, but there are many airplanes flying around with a single pilot on board, and no auto-pilot.

Ralph
Your examples are different because when a pilot or policeman talks on the radio, it is directly related to their work. Other conversations should indeed be banned.
Face it, you can't multitask because of your gender.

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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by Spirit Rider »

DanMahowny wrote: Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:18 pm I talk via speakerphone while driving frequently.

Otherwise, I'll talk to whoever is in the car with me.

Personally, I don't see the difference.
Actually, this has been extensively studied and peer reviewed. There is a significant measurable difference between talking to someone in the same vehicle and talking to someone on the phone. When you are talking to someone in the car your focus is still in the car. As long as your head isn't swiveled to the backseat, :oops: you are still focused on the road. When you talk on the phone, your mind is detached from the car, your focus is elsewhere and you are significantly distracted.

Notwithstanding all the rush to hands free cell phone laws, the studies have shown that there is very little difference in accident rates between hands free conversations and hand held conversations. In fact there has been some evidence that one hand on the wheel and one hand on the phone keeps you better oriented and alert. The phone dialing is a distraction, but most phones have had voice dialing for more than a decade and is a short fraction of average call length.

Talking on the phone hands free or not is still significantly distracted driving. Now of course, texting, checking/updating your Facebook page, etc... on your phone is worse than drunk driving. Add the fact that nobody, but nobody follows the two (2) second rule anymore is a recipe for disaster. I routinely see people flying down the highway at 70-80 mph, no more than one or two car lengths behind the car in front of them. And those forums members know who they are :annoyed Otherwise intelligent people can not seem to grasp the fact that you can't get there any faster than the person in front o you.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by Longtermgrowth »

It can take a while to figure out that someone you're talking with is driving. Unless asking rather or not upon initial contact, it really could be a while before you hear something indicating it. That alone should be a fair indicator of liability on your end of the conversation.

If feeling that strongly about it, tell them the backstory and statistics that you are familiar with, and ask them to call back when it's safe?
Having used cell phones while driving in the past, I do support a ban of use while driving. Of course with bluetooth integrated into new car stereo systems, car manufacturers have made bypassing such a law easy.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by book lover »

If I remember correctly, there is about a one percent chance of being killed while driving each year making it one of the more dangerous things that we do in life. Anything that distracts from paying attention to the nuances of driving when you are making over twenty some decisions each mile that you drive would not seem to be in anyone's interest.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by snackdog »

Is the legal liability your only concern? What kind of a physician is willing to put the health and life of their client and third parties (other motorists, pedestrians) at risk for a buck? If you are a decent doctor, clients will bend over backward for access to you. Really good physicians can even get people to visit their office in person and wait for them. ;-)

I would not take calls at all if I were you but if you must, insist they not be driving. It is not safe, simple as that, and your primary concern is their safety even if your boat payment is a very close second.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by Pajamas »

LarryAllen wrote: Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:52 pm However, I personally would refuse to do business with someone that wouldn't talk to me while driving.
That's very self-centered as it not only endangers yourself but also others. I hope that people just hang up on you when you insist that they be complicit in this selfish behavior.
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by tigerdoc93 »

I may be in the minority on this issue on this forum but I think a responsible adult should be able to make the decision when/where/how to make a phone call. I understand that talking on the phone while driving increases the risk of accident. But I have the capacity to make educated decisions. For another adult to interfere with this decision is too paternalistic in my opinion. I’m not talking about texting while driving which is a different matter entirely.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

tigerdoc93 wrote: Sat Oct 14, 2017 7:45 am I may be in the minority on this issue on this forum but I think a responsible adult should be able to make the decision when/where/how to make a phone call. I understand that talking on the phone while driving increases the risk of accident. But I have the capacity to make educated decisions. For another adult to interfere with this decision is too paternalistic in my opinion. I’m not talking about texting while driving which is a different matter entirely.
I think a responsible adult should be able to make the decision when/where/how to read the newspaper. I understand that reading the newspaper while driving increases the risk of accident. But I have the capacity to make educated decisions. For another adult to . . . I’m not talking about driving drunk, which is a different matter entirely.

There are actions that one can argue don’t increase the chance of an accident. Listening to music, perhaps? If, however, you agree that the chance of an accident increased, I think you are obliged not to do it while driving.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.
dbr
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by dbr »

HornedToad wrote: Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:06 pm
dbr wrote: Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:49 pm Talking on a cell phone while driving may be illegal in some jurisdictions. I have no idea if there is a legal theory involving the person spoken to as an accomplice or co-conspirator. It would seem quite far-fetched.
That's why you use any number of hands-free devices to do so. Bluetooth, Ford Sync, etc.

I would assume you have no liability and if it's a sticking point for you then be prepared to have some clients take their business elsewhere. I would since you are effectively saying you don't trust your client to make good decisions and you know better than them; even though you aren't there and have no idea what they are doing.

Car companies provide voice sync for a reason, because people like to talk as they drive.
My understanding is that there is evidence hands-off use of phones is just as distracting as actually holding the phone. I don't think there is a regulation anywhere about that. It would be tough to formulate as long as the capability is not banned. You'd also have to have a solid basis for going that far.
tigerdoc93
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by tigerdoc93 »

I respectfully disagree. Just because something increases the risk of accident does not oblige you to avoid that activity. You should carefully consider your options and make an informed decision.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

tigerdoc93 wrote: Sat Oct 14, 2017 8:18 am I respectfully disagree. Just because something increases the risk of accident does not oblige you to avoid that activity. You should carefully consider your options and make an informed decision.
I understand that the only way to avoid an accident completely is to not drive. I’m a bit less certain about hands free phone calls, but invariably I can identify by someone’s driving that they’ll be on a cell phone when I pull alongside. I find it strange that, in a town where the vast majority of cars have Bluetooth, people still choose to hold their phone to talk.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.
HornedToad
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by HornedToad »

Pajamas wrote: Sat Oct 14, 2017 7:21 am
LarryAllen wrote: Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:52 pm However, I personally would refuse to do business with someone that wouldn't talk to me while driving.
That's very self-centered as it not only endangers yourself but also others. I hope that people just hang up on you when you insist that they be complicit in this selfish behavior.
Only on Bogleheads is following the law considered selfish behavior.

I live in California where texting and non-hands free cell phone use is illegal. The newspaper example above would also be illegal. None of those can or should be compared to actual hands free usage that is both legal and supported by ongoing technology development.

The OP is perfectly within his right to decline to do business with someone who wants to talk to him while driving. They are perfectly within their right to find a new person to work with. He might find however, there is a different experience between his day job as a doctor and interacting with people when he is working for the client and what level of controlling behavior clients are willing to tolerate before they move on. People will tolerate more from a doctor who's looking at for their health than they will from a general client relationship.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

HornedToad wrote: Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:30 am The newspaper example above would also be illegal.
I guess your sarcasm detector was inadvertently turned off. I will flag things more accurately in the future.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.
HornedToad
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by HornedToad »

TomatoTomahto wrote: Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:41 am
HornedToad wrote: Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:30 am The newspaper example above would also be illegal.
I guess your sarcasm detector was inadvertently turned off. I will flag things more accurately in the future.
No, I did get it was sarcasm. But comparing something legal and something illegal is not an apples to apples comparison. Especially when considering what level of overly controlling behavior someone will or should be expected to tolerate from their clients.
Cruise
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by Cruise »

HornedToad wrote: Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:56 am
TomatoTomahto wrote: Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:41 am
HornedToad wrote: Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:30 am Especially when considering what level of overly controlling behavior someone will or should be expected to tolerate from their clients.
Do you mean “vendors?” I believe the OP’s clients may be dealing with an over controlling vendor
furwut
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by furwut »

I think it is clear there is a liability risk when conducting business over the phone with a person who is driving. I recall a case, some years ago, when a lawyer was driving while participating on a call for his/her law firm and caused an accident. The claimant(s) sued the lawyer AND the law firm.

Shortly after a work colleague whose wife worked at a major law firm, not the same one as above, commented on the case and told me his wife’s firm had promptly banned its staff from using the phone while driving.

About the same time my Megacorp issued a similar instruction. Non-adherence was grounds for termination.
Ready3Retire
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by Ready3Retire »

For an example, you're chatting away with a passenger while waiting for the green light on an on-ramp, or while just driving straight in your lane on a crowded freeway. When you accelerate down the ramp to merge, or start looking over your shoulder to change lanes, I think that passengers will unconsciously pause the conversation until the needs-full-concentration maneuver is completed - at least that's my experience. People on the other end of a phone line don't know you're merging. If your boss asks you a tough question right as you need to pay attention to driving, you either have an awkward pause or divide your attention.
Does this mean someone driving a car with a blind passenger should refrain from all conversation?? :) I believe using a hands free system (e.g. Ford Sync) is equivalent to having a discussion with a passenger in the vehicle. The key is keeping your hands on the steering wheel, and your eyes on the road at all times.
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JoMoney
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by JoMoney »

Depending on circumstances, a accident victim may not win a case, but they could try
http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/08/27/ ... accidents/
...They sued not only the truck’s driver, but also the girl who was texting him. On Tuesday, a state Appeals Court ruled that the girl in that particular case could not be held liable. But it also ruled “that a person sending text messages has a duty not to text someone who is driving if the texter knows, or has special reason to know, the recipient will view the text while driving.”...
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DanMahowny
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by DanMahowny »

neurosphere wrote: Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:34 pm In my physician job, I refuse to talk to them unless they stop driving. It's just my rule and there are no exceptions. If it's important enough to talk to the doctor about, it's important that I have to have their undivided attention. Besides, I'm an 'expert' in distracted driving. And by expert I mean that I've closely studied the available research for 10-15 hours in preparation for a local tv news spot I did on the issue. :D Talking in the car on the phone, even on a speakerphone, kills. The evidence is pretty conclusive. :?
Obesity kills more people than distracted driving, no doubt.

Wonder if you have similar rules regarding fat people?
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whomever
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by whomever »

Obesity kills more people than distracted driving, no doubt.
Obesity usually doesn't kill other people; bad driving sometimes does.

Drinking until you get cirrhosis is your business; drunk (or distracted) driving is everyone's business.
Last edited by whomever on Sat Oct 14, 2017 5:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
inbox788
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by inbox788 »

JoMoney wrote: Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:00 pm Depending on circumstances, a accident victim may not win a case, but they could try
http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/08/27/ ... accidents/
...They sued not only the truck’s driver, but also the girl who was texting him. On Tuesday, a state Appeals Court ruled that the girl in that particular case could not be held liable. But it also ruled “that a person sending text messages has a duty not to text someone who is driving if the texter knows, or has special reason to know, the recipient will view the text while driving.”...
Wow! I was going to chime in earlier about never having heard of this nonsense, but I guess you CAN sue anyone. Consider this when you text or call an Uber driver, taxi driver or delivery driver. "I'm being sued by the family of the motorcycle rider that was killed during an accident with the Appliance Deliver truck that I was texting to find out when my refrigerator would be delivered. Judge said I should have known he was driving."

OP, what is the nature of this 2nd job?
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bottlecap
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by bottlecap »

Telling people how to live their lives is never well-received. Plan accordingly.
furwut wrote: Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:33 pm I think it is clear there is a liability risk when conducting business over the phone with a person who is driving. I recall a case, some years ago, when a lawyer was driving while participating on a call for his/her law firm and caused an accident. The claimant(s) sued the lawyer AND the law firm.

Shortly after a work colleague whose wife worked at a major law firm, not the same one as above, commented on the case and told me his wife’s firm had promptly banned its staff from using the phone while driving.

About the same time my Megacorp issued a similar instruction. Non-adherence was grounds for termination.
When someone is acting in the course and scope of their employment, typically the employer is held liable. Simply calling someone to conduct business with them does not make you liable for something they do while on the phone.

JT
michaeljc70
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by michaeljc70 »

It isn't your decision to make. It is their choice. Talking while driving is extremely common regardless of the research. Research is clear on smoking. Do you not interact with people that smoke? Do you think they will not talk to other people from the car because you refuse to?
BBBob
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Re: Liability of phone conversations while my client is driving (and I am not in the car)?

Post by BBBob »

David Strayer, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Utah, has published a series of articles that show driving while talking on a cell phone -- hands-free or not -- is the same as driving with a blood alcohol level of .08, the legal limit.
See https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/fea ... g-dont-mix

Explain that to the client, offer to talk later, and then hang up. Both my wife and my son have been injured (separate incidents) when hit by distracted drivers using cell phones. I see this as a no-brainer, liability or not.
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