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Can Distracted Walkers Recover in Traffic Accidents?

Posted on in Personal Injury

comparative negligence, Crystal Lake personal injury attorney, distracted walkers, distracted walking, pedestrian accident, traffic accidentWhile the dangers of distracted driving are well known by now, fewer people appreciate the dangers associated with distracted walking. According to statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 4,000 pedestrians died in accidents in 2012 and 76,000 more suffered injuries. While distracted walking was not to blame for all of this, it certainly plays a part. This is especially true in light of the increasing and increasingly constant use of smartphones. Pedestrians paying attention to their phones rather than their surroundings are at greater risk for a pedestrian accident. This can be problematic for pedestrians involved in a car accident because it may end up reducing their ability to recover as a result of a doctrine known as comparative negligence.

The Dangers of Distracted Walking

Although the dangers of distracted walking appear obvious when people stop to think about them, all too often pedestrians do not consider the consequences of their actions. Pedestrians who are using their cellphones rather than paying attention to their surroundings place themselves at increased risk for an accident in a variety of ways. For instance, people using cell phones are more likely to exhibit dangerous crossing behaviors like failing to look both ways at the intersection or crossing against traffic signals. Additionally, it takes distracted walkers longer to cross the street, which puts them at greater risk for traffic injuries. In fact, distracted walking injuries increased by almost a factor of six between 2005 and 2010, according to a study by Ohio State University

Comparative Negligence

Pedestrians who are distracted while walking also face a further problem—they may see their compensation reduced if they are involved in a traffic accident. This is the result of an Illinois legal doctrine known as comparative negligence, which allows a jury to reduce the money awarded to the victim by the amount of fault they believe the victim bears in the accident. The idea behind the doctrine is that people who cause a traffic accident are less responsible for it if the victim was also doing something careless that allowed the accident to occur. For instance, imagine a driver who makes a right turn on red without checking to see if there is a pedestrian, and then hits someone as a result. If the pedestrian was being careful, he or she would be able to recover for all of his or her injuries; but, if he or she was paying attention to his or her phone, the jury could decide that he or she was 10 percent responsible for the accident. This would limit his or her recovery to 90 percent of his or her injuries.

Pedestrians injured in a traffic accident may have the right to recover for their injuries regardless of whether they were distracted. If you have been injured by a careless driver, contact a Crystal Lake personal injury attorney today.

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