Distracted Walking Injuries and Comparative Negligence

October 30, 2014

We have previously discussed the dangers of distracted driving and the increasing role of cell phones in motor vehicle accidents.  If you missed our earlier post, our advice to drivers can be summed up in short order: pay attention to the road, not your cell phone!

As it turns out, drivers are not the only ones in need of this advice.  According to a 2013 study out of The Ohio State University and published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, over 1,500 pedestrians received emergency room treatment in 2010 for injuries related to using a cell phone while walking.  While this blog has recently delved into the topic of teaching children to be attentive pedestrians, but it looks like teenagers and adults could use a refresher course.  In particular, individuals aged 21 to 25 sustained the most injuries during the period the study covered.

According to the study’s co-author, “If current trends continue, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of injuries to pedestrians caused by cell phones doubles again between 2010 and 2015.”  Considering that the study covered the years 2004 through 2010—a time when smartphone use was not as prevalent as today—the co-author’s prediction will likely prove true.

So why is this issue important?  First, of course, there are the obvious personal safety concerns.  Keeping your eyes on the road, whether driving or walking, is the best way to prevent motor vehicle accidents and personal injuries.

Second, victims involved in pedestrian accidents may see their available compensation diminish or even disappear if they are walking while distracted.  As we have told you before, a negligent defendant may argue that the injury victim’s own negligence was the cause of the victim’s injuries.  Defendants can make this argument even when they have been negligent themselves.  If the fact finder (jury or judge) agrees, a victim may have his recovery reduced—or even eliminated—because of his own comparative negligence.

In most circumstances, distracted walkers, like distracted drivers, will be negligent to some degree—after all, it is reasonable to expect people on the road to watch where they are going.  To protect your personal safety and, in unfortunate circumstances, your legal right to compensation, remember to give the road your full attention at all times.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a pedestrian accident or a motor vehicle accident, contact the Cleveland trial attorneys at Lowe Scott Fisher Co., LPA for a free telephone consultation.

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