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Texting and Walking = Injury or Death

As a general rule of life, we are all in a hurry. There never seems to be enough time to get everything done that we need to get done in a day. Enter multitasking--the most common solution is doing multiple things at the same time. This is particularly the case when each of the multiple tasks seems second nature. However, multitasking can sometimes lead to injury. Walking and texting is a great example of how the combination of two seemingly natural activities can combine to result in a dangerous situation.

Of course, we all pretty much know that walking while texting is not the safest thing. We all know that there is some element of danger associated with doing these two things at the same time. Yet wouldn't it be nice to save that extra tender 15 seconds five minutes from now, and just get the text over with while we walk? Hey, the time spent text messaging can really add up. Just think about how much time we spend reading texts, thinking about texts, trying to assess the tone of the person sending the texts, formulating a (witty) response, and waiting for the next text. Multiply that by the dozens or hundreds of texts (in the case of teenagers and twenty-somethings, at least) and we end up with a lot of time spent staring at our phones.

For those of us who spend a good portion of their day walking, it would be nice to combine that with another meaningful activity. We really are so focused these days on working efficiently that sometimes, at least for me, we feel like we're not making the most of our time. My point is that texting and walking is understandable. It is not a mystery why we do it. But, it is also not a mystery that it is dangerous and people get hurt, sometimes seriously--and sometimes, people lose their lives.

Safety associated with walking and texting has been assessed a few times at this point. Most recently, Australian scientists from the University of Queensland went to work to compile and analyze the data. They wired up a couple dozen volunteers and ran them through a number of tests. Guess what they found? When you walk in text at the same time, you put yourself at increased risk for injury or death.

As I have mentioned, this wasn't the first study conducted on the issue. A similar study was completed in 2012, observing 1102 people crossing busy intersections in downtown Seattle. That research found that people who were texting while approaching a crossing the intersection were four times more likely to engage in unsafe behaviors. Those unsafe behaviors were categorized as things like disobeying a traffic light or walking outside of the crosswalk.

Again, like I said, we all pretty much know this. No one knows this more and the people who are texting and walking themselves. Why? Because these individuals are the ones walking into street signs or garbage cans. You simply can't navigate a busy sidewalk when you're focusing on something completely different. The lesson is to be careful, and if you need to text someone while on the street, simply stop at a safe location and complete the text.

While most texters are not thinking much about their personal injury liability while texting and walking, I feel it is important to explain how the doctrine of comparative negligence may affect this issue. Yes, there is high duty of care assessed to drivers as compared to pedestrians. However, it is not an absolute burden on the part of the vehicle driver. Like most other areas of tort, at least in Massachusetts, when there has been a car accident involving a pedestrian, an assessment of liability will be made on all parties, including the plaintiff.

Simply stated, the pedestrian has a duty of care he or she must exercise when walking down a sidewalk, when standing at the corner of the intersection, and when crossing the street. There is case law in existence that would support the contention that when a pedestrian behaves irresponsibly, such behavior may bar recovery. That is even the case, potentially, when a pedestrian is standing in the middle of the street. The finder of fact must assess the behavior of all parties and assess negligence to each. Under the Massachusetts comparative negligence doctrine, the Massachusetts pedestrian car accident plaintiff may not be able to recover against the driver of the vehicle if his or her negligence with equal to or greater than that of the driver of the vehicle.

As you have read here, the doctrine of comparative negligence makes case assessment very fact-specific. All relevant facts must be considered and all evidence must be weighed properly. It is very difficult, if not impossible, for the injured party to assess these factors. It is simply impossible to remove the emotion of your own accident and view your own case purely objectively. Further, unless you are a practicing lawyer, you likely do not have the experience of assessing the viability of these cases, even your own. So, to properly have your case assessed, you really need to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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