Traveling in Italy and Using Your Cell Phone

You do need a cell phone when you visit Italy. Italy is a GSM country and the networks operate on 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bandwidth, where you will need a GSM handset to make and receive calls. You could take your US cell phone on roaming to Italy through your home service provider, but the outgoing and incoming calls are not cheap and you are bound to run up an outrageous monthly bill. The best way is to rent Italy cell phone from http://www.italysimcards.com and pay a low weekly or monthly rate at a fraction of cost to any other, renting out such phones. Italy cell phone rentals from http://www.italysimcards.com are not only affordable but provide you with the advantage of the cheapest of all rates available, and make your money take you further in your trip to Italy. The rates offered by http://www.italysimcards.com are just fractions of what it would cost you to rent Italy cell phone through conventional sources or roam with your own US cell phone through your home service provider.

To take full advantage of a comprehensive cost saving, a pre-paid Italy SIM card along with your rented Italy cell phone could save you over 80% of your call expenses. When you purchase a pre-paid Italy SIM card, you get a local cell phone number, and all your outgoing calls are charged at local rates. The calls that you receive are all FREE of any charge, no matter where they generate from. Compare this to the fact that when you take your US cell phone on roaming to Italy, you will not only pay for your outgoing call but also for your incoming calls. Since your US cell phone is on roaming through your home service provider, a business agreement has been entered into between your home service provider and the Italian network that you are using while on roaming in Italy. Through this agreement the Italian network provides a US cell phone user. like you, the necessary mobile services and each time you make or receive a call, your home service provider is charged for such service. Not only is that, with you being on roaming, there other charges that your home service provider has to pay to the Italian network provider. This is the reason why you have to pay high charges for your outgoing and incoming calls when you are roaming with your US phone in Italy.

When you rent Italy cell phone, you do not have to pay any roaming charges and with a pre-paid Italy SIM card, you pay for the calls that you make as the locals do and all your incoming calls are absolutely free. At a glance you can appreciate the savings that you have, with Italy cell phone rentals and pre-paid Italy SIM card, which can run up to more than 80% of your communication expenses which you would spend otherwise.

When you purchase a pre-paid Italy SIM card, you get an initial talk time credit. This helps you to use your Italy cell phone right away as soon as you reach Italy. For topping up your talk time credit, you can purchase a recharge voucher, which is available in any of the convenience stores in Italy. You get a choice of values for the amount of credit that you would want. These recharge vouchers are available in many denominations and you have the option to purchase the right amount of credit. You need simply to scratch off the hidden PIN in that voucher and then key in that number to have your credit topped up.

Your pre-paid SIM card for Italy is a small printed circuit board, a little smaller than a postage stamp. It goes into a slot at the back of your rented Italy cell phone and forma the main intelligent module, letting you make and receive calls. SIM stands for Subscriber Identity Module, which has an embedded microprocessor with memories. Your pre-paid SIM card holds your unique information, such as, your phone number, your service plan details, the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) of your cell phone SIM card, and more security related details, which are transmitted to the nearest tower as soon as you switch on your Italy cell phone. This information is then matched with the database of the network that you are visiting in Italy. On matching the details, your cell phone is ready to make and receive calls.

Your pre-paid Italy SIM card also has an address book, which holds the name and numbers of the people you call frequently. The SIM card also logs your outgoing and incoming calls, including the ones which you fail to respond. These are all logged along with the relevant time and date of the calls made or received.

The number of mobile subscriptions in Italy has surpassed landline installations. As a result, the network coverage is one of the best in the world, where you will not have any ‘dropped calls’ or have difficult to connect. With your pre-paid Italy SIM card your calls will not be hopping from network to network, since you will be calling through one of the Italian networks. When you but a pre-paid Italy SIM card, you pre-pay for your calls and nothing more is charged to you. With all your incoming calls being FREE and your outgoing calls being charged at local rates, your savings, compared to any other option, are very high. You do not pay for roaming charges and you do not receive any bill at the end of the month. There is no contract for you to sign.

If you wish to take your US phone to Italy, there are three considerations to be made. One is that your cell phone needs to be GSM. Two, even if you have a GSM US cell phone it is unlikely that it will work in Italy. Networks in North America. Canada and a few other neighbouring countries work on different GSM frequency bands than that of the Italian networks. US GSM networks operate on 850 MHz and 1900 MHz frequency bands while Italy operates on 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands. Unless you have a multi-frequency handset, could be a quad band or tri-band cell GSM phone, you will need a compatible cell phone for your trip to Italy. Italy cell phone rentals from http://www.italysimcards.com are all Italy network compatible and provides you the cheapest solution for your right cell phone in Italy. Third, if you plan to take your US cell phone and carry your number on roaming to Italy through your home service provider, you will need to pay high roaming charges for your outgoing and incoming calls.

You are now already convinced about the fact that Italy cell phone rentals with pre-paid Italy SIM card can save you unbelievable amounts with respect to your communication expenses. When you rent Italy cell phone and purchase a pre-paid Italy SIM card from http://www.italysimcards.com you get a full 24 hour support for the package, for 7 days a week, 365 days a year. What better could be the deal with http://www.italysimcards.com offering Italy cell phone rental at a fraction of a cost than what others offer and a pre-paid Italy SIM card, providing you with an individual saving of up to 80% of your communication costs. You do not pay anything else and since you pre-pay your call charges, you are in absolute control of your expenses.

If you are visiting Italy for the first time, you would perhaps like to know about the country. Italy is a bit larger than the Arizona. It is a long peninsula, shaping like a boat. To its west it has the Tyrrhenian Sea and on the east the Adriatic. The country is encircled by France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia to the north. While the Apennine Mountains forms the backbone of the country, the Alps form the northern border. Italy is a country of beautiful lakes and the largest one is Garda, with Po being its principle river flowing from the Alps, lining the country’s western border and the river crosses Lombard plain to the Adriatic Sea. There are lots of islands which form a part of Italy, the largest being Sicily.
When you are in Italy you will be visiting, Florence, Venice, Rome and the other attractions in the country. You will be taking the Gondola down the Grand Canal, planning to visit one of the finest restaurants in Venice for a delicious Italian preparation. You would perhaps think of watching a show before that. In Rome you will visit the great Colosseum and its mammoth size will make you wonder of the ancient display of strength that went on inside, watched by 50,000 spectators around a central elliptical arena.. It is an amphitheatre, and when you stand in the middle of that great arena, you can almost hear the cheer of that crowd. You would need Italy cell phone to book your seats at the theatre and for table reservations in the restaurant that you want to have your dinner.

Where-ever you are in Italy, you cannot be without your cell phone. You have to be in touch with your associates, friends and family back home and need to be available to those who want to get in touch with you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You need to have a cell phone which is compatible to Italy network conditions with a calling plan which will provide you with a maximum monitory savings. What more could you expect when you go for Italy cell phone rental and a pre-paid Italy SIM card from http://www.italysimcards.com providing you with optimum savings on your outgoing calls, charged at local rates.

Networks in Italy operate on Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) technology and all Italy SIM cards are compatible with GSM frequency bands. The cell phone that you are taking to Italy needs to be GSM compatible, operating on the Italian network frequencies. GSM is the second (2G) generation mobile telephony technology and is the first digital system. It replaces the old first generation (1G) analog technology. GSM is used over more than 214 countries and has more than 80% of subscribers out of the total number of mobile users in the world. GSM has a set of four frequency bands, 850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 1900 MHz, which are distributed to the different regions in the world. The GSM frequency bands used by the networks in Northern America, Canada and few other countries in the Americas are quite exclusive to the rest of the world and this sets US apart from the rest of the world regions. It is for this reason that US GSM cell phones are unlikely to work in Italy, unless the cell phone is a multi-frequency handset.
For convenience of travellers, cell phones now come with the features to respond to multiple bandwidths. The quad band phone responds to all the GSM frequencies and can be taken to any part of the world. The tri-band covers three of the four GSM frequency bandwidths, which are 800MHz, 900MHz and 1800MHz. The dual band on the other hand operates on just two frequency bands – 800MHz and 1900MHz.

Your GSM cell phone must be SIM unlocked before any SIM card can be used with it. SIM locked cell phones can only operate with the SIM card that it is meant for and therefore, your handset has to be SIM unlocked for you to use the pre-paid Italy SIM card. When you enter into a contact with your service provider, there may be a clause that might stipulate that you need to be in service with the provider for a specific period of time. In exchange, the service provider offers a cell phone, absolutely free of any cost and this phone is necessarily SIM locked. This is done to ensure that you use the SIM card that you received from the service provider and none else. At the end of the contract period, your cell phone becomes your property and your service provider assists you to SIM unlock your phone. It is then that you may opt for any other SIM card that you may like to use.

Whether you are taking your own US GSM cell phone, buying one or renting, it is imperative that the cell phone that you are taking with you to Italy is SIM unlocked. All Italy cell phone rentals from http://www.italysimcards.com are not only SIM unlocked but are also compatible with the network frequency bands in Italy.

Practical Tips to Obtain Defendant Driver’s Cell Phone Records In Car Accident Injury Lawsuits

Background: using cell phones while driving is an inherently unsafe: Everyone knows now that it is unsafe to drink and drive, but the effects of cell phone use while driving are perhaps even more devastating, because the use of cell phones while driving is so wide-spread. According to the a National Safety Council fact sheet, drivers using cell phones account for nearly 25 percent of all motor vehicle crashes annually. In fact, research has shown that driving while using a cell phone is comparable to the devastating effects that alcohol causes to the motoring public. See, A Comparison of the Cell Phone Driver and the Drunk Driver, Human Factors, Vol. 48, No. 2, Summer 2006, pp. 381-391. Sadly, 81 percent of driver have admitted to using a cell phone while driving, according to the National Safety Council fact sheet.

In bringing your motions to compel cell phone records, it is important to bring the above-referenced documents to the attention of the judge hearing your motion. It is also crucial to let juries know of these dangers, because it will affect how the jury views the defendant’s conduct, even in cases where the defense admits to liability in a rear-end collision. It is not enough to stipulate to liability and let the defendant escape accountability to the jury for the despicable nature of using a cell phone while driving. If our firm finds out that the defendant was using a cell phone, we will attach a punitive damages cause of action to the complaint, alleging that doing so was despicable conduct within the meaning of Civil Code section 3294. If you have clear facts showing that there was cell phone usage, by all means, include a punitive damages allegation with the original complaint, so that you are not forced to make a motion to amend your complaint to allege punitive damages.

Don’t get timed out: It is important to recognize the key defense that the defendants possess and neutralize that defense immediately: timing. It can often take 6 months or more to get cell phone records from the time that you first notice the deposition duces tecum until you have the records in your hands. In most aspects of a personal injury case, the defense will try to stall and delay the case until it is time for trial, and discovery has closed, leaving the plaintiff with holes in her case. That is particularly true with cell phone records. The defendant will claim to have forgotten his cell phone number and the name of his cell phone carrier. He will claim to have lost his cell phone records. The cell phone carrier will throw up road blocks, too. In most cases, the judge won’t let you get the cell phone records from the carrier until you have demonstrated due diligence in getting the records from the defendant himself.

As you will see in this article and the associated subsequent articles, there is a long process for seeking these documents through written depositions, written discovery, meet-and-confer letters, amended responses by the defense, followed by more meet-and-confer letters, and ultimately, your motion to compel. If you don’t lay the foundation, or move too quickly, the discovery judge will deny your motion to compel. So be sure to build into your discovery plan ample time to go through the whole process. Compelling cell phone records is like baking a layer cake; you have to build it one layer at a time.

Also, keep in mind that if you want to amend your complaint to allege punitive damages, California Rules of Court, Rule 3.1324, will require you to demonstrate good cause why your motion was not brought earlier. Don’t hand the defense an easy escape due to lack of diligence in bringing the motion to amend the complaint to allege punitive damages pursuant to Civil Code section 3294.

Start your hunt right away: Look for indications of cell phone usage on the part of the defense very early on in the case. Start with the intake with your client. Include a question about cell phone usage on the part of both your client and the defense in your intake questionnaire.

If your client knows that the defendant was using their cell phone, your client will usually tell you, because by now most people are aware that using a cell phone while driving is despicable conduct, particularly if the defendant was not using the phone in a hands-free way. If you client does not mention cell phone usage, be sure to ask your client about cell phone usage in the same way that you would screen for drunk driving, because, as mentioned above, cell phones are the new drunk driving and can change the entire course of the litigation, as we will see. Insurers are willing to waive liability and settle early where their insureds were using their cell phones at the time of the collision in the same way that they do with drunk driving cases.

Sometimes clients will have seen the defendant on their cell phone a few minutes before the incident happened, for example, if they were passing the defendant and were later rear-ended by the defendant, so probe your client’s memory as to the first time that they saw the defendant, and think about if they saw any signs of the defendant using the cell phone.

After speaking with your client, think about other sources of information about the collision. Look at the police report, of course, to see if the reporting officer noted cell phone use. Contact all of the witnesses listed in the report to see if they noticed the defendant using a cell phone. Be sure to ask your clients and the witnesses if they saw the defendant appearing to speak to himself, because even hands-free driving is distracted driving, and the above-cited studies show that a driver’s response time is reduced even with hands-free usage. As if they saw the defendant gesturing while driving, because of course many people will gesture with their hands while on the phone.

Even if your client and the witnesses are unable to state that they saw direct evidence of cell phone usage, such as the defendant holding a cell phone to his ear or talking to no one while driving alone, it is possible to infer cell phone usage where the defendant has no logical story to explain their odd driving behavior. For example, if your client sees the vehicle coming up on them from behind and failing to slow down, your client might not have time to focus their gaze on the driver before impact, but the fact that the driver doesn’t slow down is a flag indicating that the driver was distracted. Weaving is of course another example of distracted driving, as is odd variations in speed. You will need all of these facts to persuade a discovery judge that there are some indicia of distracted driving before the judge will let you compel the defendant’s cell phone records.

File suit early: If you see flags indicated distracted driving, file suit immediately. You will need to begin the process of investigation through formal discovery immediately, because insurers are going to fight this discovery battle tooth and nail, as they are aware that the public is disgusted with distracted driving, and that distracted driving will open up their insured’s personal assets, creating a conflict. Of course, it is exactly this kind of conflict that you want to create for the purpose of leveraging a decent settlement for your client.

If you see flags indicating distracted driving, consider serving a deposition notice on the defendant 20 days after service is effected on them, pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.210(b) which provides in pertinent part as follows:

2025.210(b) The plaintiff may serve a deposition notice without leave of court on any date that is 20 days after the service of the summons on, or appearance by, any defendant. On motion with or without notice, the court, for good cause shown, may grant to a plaintiff leave to serve a deposition notice on an earlier date.

The prevailing wisdom is that you should serve form interrogatories by mail after receiving the defendant’s answer, but it is exactly that kind of supposed “common sense” that you want to avoid in these cases. You want to send the defense a signal that you are different, and they should not expect “the usual” from you in any aspect of this case. It also sends the defense a signal that you are not going to permit them to enjoy their primary defense tactic, that of stall and delay. This practice also gives you access to the defendant before the defense adjuster and defense attorney have had extra time to help the defendant formulate false testimony. In their haste to prepare an answer, the defense might not have time to screen the defendant for cell phone usage, and so the defendant might be unwary of the need to prevaricate about his cell phone usage.

After serving the complaint and summons, fax and mail the defense adjuster to let them know that service has been effected, and let them know that you expect a timely answer to the complaint. Then serve the deposition notice, and again fax and mail the defense with a letter saying that you expect the defendant to appear on the date noticed for the deposition. Make sure that you give yourself enough time to actually get the deposition notice served. Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.270(a) requires 10 days’ notice.

The defense attorney will likely phone you to say that there is a conflict in their schedule, but you should politely and persistently insist on an early deposition for the defendant. When the defense attorney asks what the rush is all about, tell them that it is the plaintiff’s job to move the ball, and that the defense should expect to see this pace continued all throughout the case. Do not, of course, talk about your interest in getting discovery of cell phone usage at this point. The defense will not understand why you are pushing the case so quickly, and it will make them start to question their assumptions about what is “normal” in a case, including their “usual” evaluation of the ultimate case value.

The purloined letter, hidden in plain view: You are going to want to include a duces tecum demand with your deposition notice. In that duces tecum demand, you are going to want to ask for cell phone records. Be sure to bury the request for the cell phone records in the middle of the demand somewhere, well after the usual request for photographs and statements of the plaintiff and witnesses, etc, unless you have alleged punitive damages in your complaint, in which case the cell phone usage will be front and center. Be sure to serve along with the deposition subpoena set of form interrogatories, a standard request for production of documents, a set of specially-prepared interrogatories, if that is needed in your case, and a request for admissions. All of these documents can be served any time that is 10 days after service of the summons on the defendant. See C.C.P. sections 2030.020, 2031.020, and 2033.020, respectively.

It is important to serve a standard set of requests for admissions, along with the deposition notice and the other documents. The requests for admissions should certainly ask the defendant to admit the facts of liability from your client’s perspective, and should ask them to admit the ultimate fact that the defendant is at fault for causing the collision. This is particularly true if the case is a rear-ender, because the defense attorney will oppose the motion to compel cell phone records on the basis of that the cell phones are not relevant in a rear-end collision. When the defendant denies liability in the request for admissions, as they inevitably will, you now have ammunition to show the discovery judge that liability is disputed, and therefore the cell phone records will go to the issue of fault.

Be thorough in deposing the defendant on how the collision happened: If you have spotted one of the flags of distracted driving, typically the defendant will not admit cell phone use. You will need to first lay the foundation for the erratic driving. Be sure to begin the deposition with a benign tone toward the deponent. Don’t clue them into the fact that you are going to press them later in the deposition, because they will become defensive, and they won’t give you the key facts that lay the foundation for the flags of distracted driving.

The defendant will typically admit that they rear-ended your client, if that is the case, but they will gloss over the facts leading up to the impact. You will definitely want to ask them when it was that they noticed that your client was stopped, and what they did to avoid the collision. You can ask them lead-in questions such as “it sounds like you were a bit distracted” or “it sounds like your attention drifted off of the road for a little bit.” Then, ask them if their windows in the car were rolled up or rolled down. Ask them if their radio was playing. Ask them if they had some trouble keeping their vehicle in their lane.

Then ask them if they were using their cell phone at the time of the collision. If they say no, ask them when the last time was that they used their cell phone before the collision. Ask them where they kept their cell phone. Was it attached to their belt? Was it in a purse or brief case? If there were other occupants in the defendants’ vehicle, be sure to set their depositions for a time immediately following the defendant’s deposition, so that the defendant will be clued into the fact that his fabrications might be contradicted by other sworn testimony.

Sample duces tecum demand in commercial driving cases: You can count on the defendant to be evasive in deposition. It is not uncommon for the defendant to say that they don’t remember their cell phone number or the name of their cell phone carrier! If that is the case, you will need to make sure that you have requested collision reports and bills of lading applicable to the shipment that the defendant was carrying, in case the driver’s cell phone number is there. Here is some language that would cover those items:

All written collision reports prepared by defendant Donald T. Driver pertaining to the subject collision.

All drivers’ time sheets, log books (regardless of form) involved in recording the subject tractor truck’s usage and mileage by all drivers in the 72 hours prior to the subject collision.

Don’t assume that the defense attorney will object to the collision report prepared by the driver. It might be that the defense attorney will need to use the collision report to refresh the recollection of the driver, and so might give up the collision report, rather than argue that it was an attorney-client communication prepared by the driver for the insurance adjuster to prepare for litigation.

Sample language for special interrogatories seeking the defendants’ cell phone info: If the defendant claims in deposition to have forgotten their cell phone number or the name of their carrier, you will need to serve specially-prepared interrogatories to elicit that information. Here are some sample questions:

State the name of all mobile telephone carriers used by defendant Donald T. Driver on the date of the subject incident which is the subject of this lawsuit.

State the name of any mobile telephone carrier with whom defendant Donald T. Driver had a contract for mobile telephone service on the date of the subject which is the subject of this lawsuit.

State the mobile telephone number(s) of any mobile telephone(s) for which defendant Donald T. Driver had active service on the date of the subject incident.

State the name of the mobile telephone carrier providing service for each of the mobile telephone numbers for which defendant Donald T. Driver had active service on the date of the subject incident.

State the mobile telephone number(s) of any active mobile telephone(s) provided to defendant Donald T. Driver by his employer on the date of the subject incident.

State the name of the mobile telephone carrier providing service for each of the mobile telephone numbers provided to defendant Donald T. Driver by his employer on the date of the subject incident.

Was defendant Donald T. Driver using a mobile telephone for driving directions at the time of the subject collision?

Was defendant Donald T. Driver using a mobile telephone for voice communications at the time of the subject collision?

Was defendant Donald T. Driver using a mobile telephone for text communications at the time of the subject collision?

Was defendant Donald T. Driver using a mobile telephone for any purpose at the time of the subject collision?

When was the last time before the subject collision that defendant Donald T. Driver used a mobile telephone for any purpose?

IDENTIFY the last person that defendant Donald T. Driver spoke with by mobile telephone preceding the subject collision?

As used in these interrogatories, “IDENTIFY” means to provide the name, address, and a telephone number of the person to be identified.

Sample language requesting cell phone records: Below is an example of language that you can use in requesting cell phone records. Be sure to include questions that are both narrowly directed to the time of the collision, as well as questions that are broader, so that the defense won’t say that they don’t have records which are precisely that exact. Bear in mind that the defendant will typically say that they are not in the possession, custody, and control of the requested records. Your primary purpose in requesting these records is to demonstrate to the discovery judge that it will be necessary to compel the defendant to sign a release of records, because the defendant will, by that time, have answered these questions saying that they don’t have possession of the records. In most cases, the only custodian of the records will be the carriers, but you have to set up the defendant by asking these questions first.

Produce all contracts for the delivery of mobile telephony service entered into between defendant Donald T. Driver and any mobile telephony carrier which was in effect at the time of the subject collision.

Produce all contracts for the delivery of mobile telephony service entered into between defendant Donald T. Driver’s employer and any mobile telephony carrier which provided service for defendant Donald T. Driver’s use in effect at the time of the subject collision.

Produce any and all billing statements in the possession, custody or control of the responding defendants for mobile telephony service used by defendant Donald T. Driver for mobile telephony service which was in effect for the billing period which covered the date of service for May 1, 2008 [insert the date of your subject collision].

Produce any and all billing statements covering the period of 10:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m. on the day of the subject collision for mobile telephony service used by defendant Donald T. Driver.

You are going to have to customize the language above to fit your case. If the collision happened at 12:00 noon, for example, you will want to go back to 10:00 a.m. and forward to 2:00 p.m. to make sure that you get the data for the subject call, in case the parties or the reporting police officer got the time of the collision a bit off.

Conclusion: It may be a long haul to get cell phone records in car accident litigation, start now: You can count on both the defendant and the defense attorney to fight tooth and nail to prevent you from getting your hands on the requested cell phone records. Start your hunt early, or you will find that you are right up against the discovery cut-off without your records, or without adequate time to amend your complaint to allege punitive damages.

Is Your Company At Risk Without A Cell Phone Policy?

No Cell Phone Policy = The Potential For Serious Disaster

“A Cell Phone Policy…Really?”

FACT: Cell phone litigation is one of the newest types of litigation springing up all around the country. Whenever there is an accident or harassment, wage disputes, or other privacy violations, and a cell phone is involved you can bet a law suit may not be far away.

As a Wireless Management Consultant who has written numerous policies in the past, I am always amazed when companies tell me they do not have an active and up to date policy. Some business owners find the average Attorney’s price of $2,500 for a company cell phone policy a little too steep for their budget. Others try to write one themselves, which can be a daunting and overwhelming task. Still others are just unaware of how vulnerable their company is without one.

Why would you want to create a policy for every employee in your company sign? Other than the fact that we live in the most litigious nation on the Earth, you also need to protect your business in other areas as well.

Traffic and Safety Laws

Employers that have employees driving company owned vehicles during the course of business are very much at risk at being held liable if the employee is involved in an accident while using a company mobile phone.

FACT: Employers can incur liability whether or not the call is personal or business related if it is made on a company phone.

FACT: Employer liability in cases involving a third party is based on a legal principle called vicarious liability. It provides that an employer is responsible for the harm caused by its employee if that employee, using a company cell phone, was acting within the course and scope of his or her employment at the time that the accident occurred.

FACT: Plaintiffs often claim that their employer is directly negligent for its own conduct in encouraging or permitting employees to use mobile devices for business without adequate policies and training of those policies.

FACT: It doesn’t matter if the call is being made during regular office hours or not; what matters is that the call is somehow work related and the device they are using belongs to YOU! Employers can be found liable for any damages caused by an employee acting within the scope of his or her employment. Employers can now be found negligent if they fail to provide an adequate policy and proper training.

– Recently, in the state of Virginia, a sales rep returning home from work, was talking on her cell phone with a customer. She accidentally struck and killed a teenage girl. The family of the girl filed a $30 million lawsuit against the employer, claiming the company was negligent in providing cell phones to their employees without providing a company cell phone policy or a safety policy. The family won that suit.

•In Arkansas, a jury found a lumber company liable after one of their employees struck another car, gravely injuring the passenger. At the time of the accident the employee driving the vehicle was using the cell phone for a business call. This particular case ended up being settled for $16 million. They had no cell phone policy.

-The large investment firm of Salomon Smith Barney paid a $500,000 settlement to the family of a motorcyclist killed by one of its employees making a work-related call after hours on his company cell phone. No policy in place.

FACT: Employers can be liable for problems or accidents created by an employee’s use of cell phones while driving if a company provides the phones, or if cell phone use is a necessary or an encouraged option as part of their job.

IRS Regulations

FACT: IRS guidelines require company issued cell phones and wireless data devices be used only for business purposes; otherwise, personal use of these devices must be claimed as a taxable benefit. Your company could be penalized and audited for non-compliance of this rule. The IRS can declare that all undocumented use of a cell phone in your company is personal and can treat the monthly cell phone charges as wages even if the calls were for business purposes.

FACT: The IRS and state auditors have become very aggressive in their requirements regarding personal cell phones being used in the workplace. Companies are being audited more often and as a result they are paying serious penalties and fines for non-compliance. You need a policy in place not only to guide company employees regarding the use of cell phones but also to protect your company from these audits. If you have set policies in place that your employees have signed, then you are protecting your business.

-A company was audited by the IRS for cell phone compliance and fined over $19,000 for not have a clear enough policy about employees making personal cell phone calls on their company phones and for making business calls on their personal phones.
Federal and State Labor and Wage Laws

FACT: Deducting the cost of a wireless device from an employee’s final paycheck violates most state and federal wage laws. Federal and State law restrict and prohibit an employer from making pay deductions for damaged mobile devices or for failing to return company issued cell phones or for damaging equipment. In most states if you are found at fault for deducting money from an employees paycheck for a lost or damaged phone, and unless your policy is worded correctly, you can be sued for triple damages.

The FLSA

FACT: The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that non-exempt employees must be paid for all hours worked. If, for example, a non-exempt employee checks work email from home or takes calls from a customer on his company mobile phone, the time must be counted as hours worked.

Monitoring and Tracking

Do you have your employee’s consent to track the whereabouts of your company’s mobile devices? Without consent you walk a fine line concerning privacy rights. You need a policy that is very clear and specific about tracking the whereabouts of your cell phones so that you are not infringing on any one’s privacy.

-A Florida Roofing company was sued by an employee when he discovered his company cell phone was still being tracked after hours without his knowledge. He had visited a friend the night before at a drug rehab center and the next day his employer questioned him about his own drug usage. This was considered an invasion of privacy because the company had no policy in place that informed the employee that his cell phone could be tracked at anytime. The employee was awarded $500,000 in a civil suit.

Other issues

FACT: Employers are now facing increasing claims by employees for health problems allegedly associated with cell phone use. This is happening even though the science appears inconclusive and contradictory. Workers who use cell phones while on the job have now begun to file workers compensation claims and lawsuits based on the theory that radio frequency radiation from cell phones may lead to various forms of brain cancer or other maladies.

Employers should protect themselves with a policy that informs employees of the potential health risks associated with the use of a cell phone, and even suggests or requires using a hands-free device. The policy should state that employees will not hold their employers liable for any suspected health issues that may result from using a company-issued mobile device is critical.

Privacy Concerns

Are you concerned about privacy? Do you have a policy in place that addresses the misuse of cell phones in your company? Does it address confidentiality, security, privacy and harassment? Are you concerned about privileged or confidential material such as trade secrets or information about your customers? Do you have a policy that includes a provision governing camera phones, which present an increasing risk to companies? Intellectual property, trade secrets, personal customer information, or other confidential data can be captured and used easily with a camera phone.

FACT: Employees may have their picture taken in private areas, and can file suit against your company for invasion of privacy or harassment. Do your employees have cell phones with cameras and video features or Smart Phones with scanners? Do you have a policy in place that covers ownership of images taken with your company-issued mobile devices? Do your employees have broadband or Internet cards? Do you have a policy in place that prohibits your employees from connecting their personal phones to USB ports on their computer?

-An employee of a Delaware company decided it might be fun to play a joke on a fellow employee and take a picture of him relieving himself at a urinal. He snapped the photo on his company cell phone and showed to others back at the office. When that got a few laughs he posted it on the Internet. The company is out of business today after losing a $1.4 million dollar lawsuit for negligence. The employee said there was no written policy in place on cell phone misconduct in the workplace. The Judge had no other recourse.

Can you afford to be without a policy?

The answer is NO. You can’t afford the risk!

FACT: Having a policy prepared for your company is a small price for a document that could possibly save your company from an expensive lawsuit. It’s really a small price to pay for such a powerful defense, should you need it. So why put your company in a vulnerable state by not having one?

Wouldn’t you rather have a signed document in hand when an employee decides he wants to sue you? A signed document that says he has given his permission on the very thing he is trying to sue you for? Sure you would. Without a sound policy in place… you are a sitting duck!