Texting and driving collisions have been on the rise in recent years, with distracted drivers causing as many as one out of every four crashes nationwide. There are numerous educational efforts aimed at alerting the public to the risks of distracted driving. However, distracted driving is not the only potential cause of injury from cell phones. Studies suggest that distracted walking may be just as dangerous for pedestrians.

Distracted Walking Statistics

According to Science Daily, around 10 percent of pedestrians who seek treatment in emergency rooms after an accident were texting when their injuries occurred. This estimate may actually be lower than the reality, because many pedestrians who get hurt while on their phones are embarrassed to admit the role distraction played in the incident.

Further, the number of people injured in distracted walking accidents has increased dramatically between 2004 and 2010. Healthline reports that emergency room visits resulting from cell phone use while walking have tripled over this time period. The largest increase in pedestrian accidents has been among people between the ages of 16 and 25.

Distracted Walking Accidents and Your Rights

A texting pedestrian faces the same three types of distraction that a texting driver does: manual, cognitive and visual distraction. Like a distracted driver, a distracted pedestrian is not looking at the road or sidewalk in front of them; instead of focusing on safety, their brain is focused on the text message being sent or read.

Due to lack of attention, pedestrians put themselves at serious risk of injury when they use their phone as they walk. Texting pedestrians are at risk of bumping into things, walking into walls, or even stepping out into traffic.

If a distracted pedestrian walks into traffic, they could be deemed partially at fault for any accident caused as a result of their negligent actions. However, a driver may still share some legal responsibility if they strike and injure a distracted pedestrian with their vehicle. Under Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law, an injured pedestrian could potentially recover compensation as long as the driver is found to be at least 51 percent responsible for the accident that occurs. The driver will pay only for the portion of the damages equal to his part in causing the crash.

If you’ve been injured in any type of collision, whether as a driver or a pedestrian, it’s always best to contact a qualified attorney. Pennsylvania law can be confusing, and an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer in Harrisburg can help you understand your rights and explain how the law applies to your particular case.