More and more people are choosing walking as a form of exercise and as a way to travel to work, especially in cities. Though walking is largely a safe practice, walking while distracted, particularly by our phones or other gadgets, can be perilous to us and others. This is especially true in larger cities where there are many people and traffic, which raises the possibility of an accident if you walk while distracted.

For instance, there are many reported cases of pedestrian accidents in California involving pedestrians who were on phones at the time of the incident. This begs the question of whether distracted walking can lead to legal repercussions. Let’s analyze the facts and the law surrounding this touchy topic.

Common Incidents of Distracted Walking

The truth is that most pedestrians are more focused on their phones than their surrounding environment. For example, some people may still cross a road while texting. This kind of distraction can easily cause an accident. However, this is not the only form of distracted walking. Other examples can include:

  • Talking to a phone while walking
  • Listen to music, podcast, or any audio as you walk
  • Playing games on your phone
  • Eating or drinking while walking
  • Holding a conversion as you walk
  • Paying less attention, like looking up or around the streets and buildings, as you walk
  • Looking down entirely while walking
  • Reading a book or magazine

Walking while distracted significantly reduces your situational awareness of your environment and surroundings. This dramatically slows your reaction time, making it difficult to notice or evade dangerous things on your path or around you. This makes it more likely that you may slip and fall or get hit by oncoming motorists.

Distracted Walking and Personal Injury Law in California

According to California traffic law, all road users, including drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists, and pedestrians, must practice a reasonable duty of care to protect themselves and others. Therefore, pedestrians always need to be careful while walking on the sidewalks as well as when crossing the road.

As a pedestrian, you must do all due diligence to ensure your safety before you cross a marked or unmarked crosswalk. This may involve ensuring the incoming motorist can see you, or not texting or engaging in other distractions while crossing the street.

On the other hand, drivers in California must yield to pedestrians’ right of way in both marked and unmarked crosswalks. Motorists must also take other reasonable steps to protect the safety of pedestrians when driving near known crosswalks, e.g., slowing down or stopping if people are crossing the road.

Can Distracted Walking Affect My Personal Injury Claim?

One common legal repercussion of distracted walking in California is the possibility of this behavior affecting your personal injury claim if you get injured in an auto accident. This is because of the pure comparative negligence law doctrine used in personal injury claims in California.

In a nutshell, pure comparative negligence law dictates that every person carries their own share of liability in personal injury accidents. Therefore, the driver’s insurance company may argue that the pedestrian was partly to blame for an accident if investigations find out that they were, for example, texting when the accident happened. If proven, this can reduce the pedestrian’s compensation by a percentage equal to their share of liability in the accident.

For example, suppose you win $100,000 in compensation but are found 25% liable for the accident since you were on your phone while walking prior to the incident. In that case, you’ll only receive 75% of the total compensation.

Consult a Skilled California Pedestrian Accident Lawyer at Setareh Law

Distracted walking can lead to legal repercussions. As we have seen, if you sustain a personal injury while distracted walking, you might face legal consequences when filing for compensation. Nevertheless, don’t just wave away your right to fair compensation, even if you were undeniably unfocused when the accident happened. Our lawyers at Setareh Law may still help recover the compensation you deserve, no matter your percentage of liability. 

Consult our experienced California pedestrian accident lawyers for professional legal guidance. Reach out to us at (310) 659-1826 or contact us online to talk with one of our personal injury lawyers at Setareh Law. Our team also speaks Spanish.