Motor vehicle accidents caused by drivers distracted by cell phone use or texting while driving has been the focus of numerous news stories and legislative initiatives over the past several years in the Chicago area. Now, however, a study has suggested that distracted walking actually causes more injuries than distracted driving. The study was conducted by Ohio State University researchers who collected information on cell-phone-related emergency room visits. The result showed that so-called distracted walking causes two million injuries to pedestrians each year.
According to The New York Times, a 25-year-old woman was walking along a sidewalk on a day when the visibility was good and the sidewalk was not under repair. As she walked talking to her grandmother on her cellphone she got lost in conversation, very lost. “I ran into a truck,” she reported. It was parked in a driveway.
In Philadelphia, surveillance video captured a man falling off a train platform while texting; a La Crescenta, California, man was so focused on his cell phone he found himself face to face with a black bear, as reported by KTLA news.
In the study conducted by Jack Nasar, Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at Ohio State University, one of the students dressed as a clown and unicycled around a central square on campus. About half the people walking past by themselves said they had seen the clown, and the number was slightly higher for people walking in pairs. But only 25 percent of people talking on a cellphone said they had.
It is happening a lot it seems. Most times, the mishaps for a distracted walker are minor, a slightly dinged head, a bruised knee, or a sprained ankle. But the consequences may be more severe when a distracted pedestrian comes into contact with a moving vehicle, not only in terms of injuries suffered, but the liability for the injuries suffered, even if the driver is at fault.
Illinois has adopted modified comparative negligence as the standard for recovery of damages. Under modified comparative negligence, an injured party may recover damages only if he or she is less than 50 percent at fault for the injury or damages. However, the recovered amount may be reduced in proportion to the degree that the injured party was at fault. For example, if the other driver is determined to be 80 percent at fault and you are determined to be 20 percent at fault, you can collect for your damages because you were less than 50 percent at fault. However, the other driver’s might only be found liable for 80 percent of your damages.
If you find yourself in a situation where you may be such a “distracted pedestrian” involved in an accident or you suspect that you may have been injured by one, the advice of an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney is extremely important to adequately evaluate the circumstances of each case.