In November, Matthew Daus joined a teleconference hosted by The Company Dime, discussing “What’s the Healthiest Way to Get to the Airport,” which included best practices and the current best ways to stay healthy and safe while traveling.

As COVID-19 continues to be a pressing health concern across the nation, business travel has been severely impacted. However, as some people decide or are required to take in-person meetings away from their home offices, a myriad of issues arise. Business travelers may feel most comfortable driving their own cars, but not everyone owns a car. Car rentals? Perhaps, but what if you are not confident driving in downtown areas? Rideshare? Taxi? Public transport? In some cases, there is no obvious answer.

Mr. Daus offered the following key takeaways:

  • The ground transportation industry (including taxi, rideshare, black cars, and limousines) is doing a good job at following CDC guidance, without the needs for regulatory mandates.
  • Regarding the duty of care, it is not as much about what the duty of care is, but who has the duty of care. Generally, the duty of care is a well-defined baseline that each company already understands, and that duty of care rests now mostly with mobility companies in the corporate business travel sector – not necessarily the clients or customers and their employers.
  • During the pandemic, there is likely a specific reason for both corporate travel managers and mobility companies not going beyond the government recommended duty of care. If a company or employer puts higher health and safety standards for business travel in place above and beyond official government guidance, the company or employer must ensure that those safety measures are strictly enforced. Otherwise, both companies may expose themselves to litigation.
  • Proving you caught COVID-19 in a car that your company/employer arranged is difficult, but not impossible. If an employee travels to and from work, usually that is not within the scope of employment to file a workers’ compensation claim, but if the employee is traveling on company business and catches COVID-19, while a claim can be filed in most jurisdictions, proving causation by the ground transportation provider could prove daunting. That will likely result in additional claims – including workers’ compensation – and insurance premiums could rise over time.
  • While most states bar employees traveling on a business trip from suing their employer for such claims outside the exclusive workers’ compensation remedy, a third party action might be commenced if the employer goes beyond the standard of care to impose additional unenforced requirements on their mobility providers, thus opening the proverbial door to liability.
  • Modal shifts in transport are governed more by traveler fears than actual quantifiable health and safety risks.

 Source: Windels Marx

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