How To Use Duty Of Care To Gain More Clients

Tom Halligan
Posted on August 7, 2017

(LCT image)

(LCT image)

NEW YORK --- The term “duty of care” is often used by the National Limousine Association and state and regional industry groups as a key argument to convince corporate travel managers they should reconsider allowing their employees to use the freewheeling, poorly regulated, and sometimes dangerous TNCs.

Considering TNCs are now allowed by half of all corporate travel policies — up from 44% in June 2016, according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) — the chauffeured transportation industry is trying hard to educate its corporate clients about potential legal consequences of disregarding duty of care.

There is plenty of ammunition to support the argument TNCs pose numerous risks to their employees and violate duty of care oversight by corporations. For example, “Who’s Driving You?” a website that tracks and categorizes TNC incidents, is chock full of crimes and bad behavior by TNC drivers: Deaths (28 from murders to crashes), sexual assaults (28), assaults (63), people posing as TNC drivers (58), and felons driving (19). There is even a category for alleged kidnappings, plus another frightening list of miscellaneous incidents no person should ever be subject to as a passenger in a for-hire vehicle.

“You have to have an integrated risk management plan throughout your company that breaks down barriers.”— Bruce Mcindoe, CEO, iJET (photo courtesy of Bruce Mcindoe)

“You have to have an integrated risk management plan throughout your company that breaks down barriers.”
— Bruce Mcindoe, CEO, iJET (photo courtesy of Bruce Mcindoe)

Risk Management As A Competitive Edge

It’s not just TNCs that are top of mind with corporate travel managers. It’s also room-share services such as Airbnb.com and other non-traditional travel options not covered by typical travel policies.

At a June 20 New York City summit focused on global travel risk, sponsored by the Business Traven News (BTN) Group, various security, government, and travel risk experts spoke to corporate travel managers about keeping their employees safe and secure when traveling in the U.S. and worldwide.

Because of global unrest, terrorist attacks, and ransom kidnappings in certain places, travel professional were advised to be more vigilant about adopting duty of care policies and reviewing all aspects of employee travel to ensure employee safety and reduce risks.

Duty of care: A requirement a person act toward others and the public with the watchfulness, attention, caution, and prudence a reasonable person in the circumstances would use. If a person’s actions do not meet this standard of care, then the acts are considered negligent, and any damages resulting may be claimed in a lawsuit for negligence.
Source: dictionarylaw.com

Trust Through Standards
As the chauffeured transportation industry looks for ways to retain or gain corporate accounts, it should promote trust through high standards, reliability, accountability, chauffeur training, background checks, and passenger safety. Those are strong selling points to use with travel professionals who need to reduce employee travel risk.

Matthew Bradley, regional security director, Americas, with International SOS, told summit attendees that duty of care is really duty of loyalty to protect employees by putting in place security measures and an emergency response plan.

“If there is an incident in Paris and you have employees in Paris, what do you do? What are the practical steps you take to protect employees? What are their exposure and your response plans? How do you communicate that to take charge of their personal security? You have to look at the practical steps to take charge,” Bradley said.

“Employers have an obligation to act in a prudent and cautious manner to alleviate foreseeable employee injury.” — Lauren Cell, attorney, Fisher Phillips (photo courtesy of Lauren Cell)

“Employers have an obligation to act in a prudent and cautious manner to alleviate foreseeable employee injury.” — Lauren Cell, attorney, Fisher Phillips (photo courtesy of Lauren Cell)

That means travel managers must rely on trusted transportation services that can swing into action if needed, and be able to communicate when employees have been transported safely in an emergency.

“It’s not just international travel you have to be concerned with, but domestic as well,” said Bruce Mcindoe, CEO, iJET. “You have to have an integrated risk management plan throughout your company that breaks down barriers and silos because when an incident happens, you need all the talent you have at the table. You need to look at the people affected, their locations, the information coming, and all the assets coming in to form a precision response.”

(Photo courtesy of Matthew Bradley)

(Photo courtesy of Matthew Bradley)

Lauren Cell, an attorney with the Radnor, Pa. office of Fisher Phillips, noted employers must act in a prudent and cautious manner to avoid foreseeable employee injury. “It’s not just the potential for employees to file a negligence lawsuit costing possibly millions of dollars if they were sent to a high-risk region and an incident occurred, but also your company’s reputation can be [forever] tarnished.”

For private ground transportation companies, the chance to be part of what Mcindoe called the “response supply chain” to an incident can and should be part of your pitch to clients and prospects. Your services should enhance their risk aversion plans and be part of their corporate duty of care travel policies and procedures.

The NLA Position On Duty of Care
The NLA has a TNC position paper with a section on the industry’s stance on passenger safety and duty of care. The full statement can be found on the NLA website: limo.org under the “advocacy” tab. In part:

“The bona fide passenger transportation industry has historically been held to a duty of care toward the passenger and public. This duty of care requires a person to adhere to a standard of reasonable care while performing any act that might foreseeably cause harm to others if handled negligently.

“Unlike the bona fide passenger transportation industry, some TNCs attempt to suggest duty of care does not apply to them. While many TNCs profess they conduct a criminal background check, many do not independently verify the driver’s attestation relating to the currency of his operator’s license or the sufficiency of his auto insurance.

“In San Francisco, a TNC driver allegedly punched a pedestrian. A pedestrian child was struck and killed by a TNC driver. Another pedestrian was struck with an injury to her leg – thereafter, the TNC and the driver’s auto insurance denied responsibility. News agencies have published stories of passengers alleging they have been physically or sexually assaulted by TNC drivers in the metro areas of Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Boston, among others. Concededly, these unfortunate events could have happened at bona fide transportation entities. However, the NLA believes the incidences described here are reported in higher proportion in TNCs than in regulated transportation industries such as taxi and chauffeured transportation.

“The NLA further believes that perhaps some of these events could have been avoided if TNCs faced the same regulations and duty of care as other regulated transportation industries. Perhaps most importantly, unlike bona fide passenger transportation operators, some TNCs may not accept responsibility for the conduct of their drivers on the pretense the TNC is merely providing an app, not the car and driver.”

Related Topics: duty of care, National Limousine Association, passenger safety, Ride Responsibly, Safety, Taxi Limousine Paratransit & Association, TNCs

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