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Court grants workers comp to employee who looked at phone while driving

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An appeals court in Virginia has upheld a previous court ruling that an employee was entitled to workers compensation damages following a car accident that occurred after she looked at her cellphone to see if her employer was calling.

The accident occurred when an on-call nurse saw her screen of her phone light up in her pocket, which she believed to be her employer, and while distracted, her vehicle skidded across the road and crashed into a bank.

Judges said that because the nurse had taken steps to reserve her cellphone - which served as a backup to a pager - for work purposes, her injuries for the crash were directly related to her job. However, the court was also careful to say that the change a person's employer might be calling wouldn't be grounds for similar claims in all situations.

"Cellphones and other communication devices are now ubiquitous. Employers commonly contact employees through such devices," the court's opinion said.

While the scope of the case was somewhat limited, it may show the need for effective business insurance for companies who have dedicated on-call workers, such as lawyers or other professional services firms.

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