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?

The 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 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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