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Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie, Inc.

Distracted Pedestrians: Who Is Liable in an Accident?

Distracted walking has become a major problem that is sending many people to the emergency room and even causing numerous deaths, reported the Los Angeles Times. While the executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association indicated that there is not a great deal of data available to identify the extent of the distracted walking problem, it has become clear that there is an issue that presents a significant health and safety risk. 


“Pedestrians are especially vulnerable to suffering serious injury in an accident with a motor vehicle,” explained California personal injury attorney James Ballidis, “and, therefore, should avoid distractions whenever possible.”


Distracted walking involves using a cellphone or other mobile device when walking. Texting while walking is one of the most common causes of distracted walking, but doing anything with your SmartPhone, portable music player or other portable device could be a distraction. This could include tweeting, talking on the telephone, playing video games, and listening to music on headphones, among other behaviors. 


As the Los Angeles Times indicates, most people are not aware of the potential dangers of distracted walking. People typically believe that they can walk and text or otherwise use their phones or iPods. Further, people believe that serious consequences as a result of walking and using their mobile devices are unlikely. 


While the data may not be complete, available information reveals that distracted walking presents a significant health danger. For example, the Los Angeles Times reports that 1,152 people were treated for injuries caused by distracted walking in 2011. Researchers at the University of Maryland also reported 116 incidents where pedestrians suffered serious injury or were killed while wearing headphones.  Approximately half of the incidents identified by the University of Maryland involved a train, and two-thirds involved men under age 30.   


Accidents When Texting and Walking


If you are injured in an accident while texting and walking—or otherwise walking while distracted—you may be found to be at least partially at-fault, which would limit your ability to collect compensation for your recovery. However, if a driver of a car, train or bicycle that collided with you was also distracted, not paying attention or negligent in any manner, that driver may be partly responsible for causing your injuries and thus partially responsible for damages. 


California residents, however, should be cautious whenever they use their phones or listen to music when walking, as there are significant dangers presented by failure to pay attention to your surroundings. 


Additional articles on transportation safety and the personal injury claims process are available to the public free of charge through our office’s Preferred Friends and Clients Program.


If you would like to request one of these free resources, or to speak with a California personal injury attorney, feel free to call 866-981-5596. 

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