Curbed recently explored the myth of distracted walking, which has too often become a rallying cry of insurance defense lawyers when faced with driver liability in the wake of a serious or fatal pedestrian accident.
A new study by Northern Arizona University engineering professors looked at more than 3,000 pedestrians using crosswalks in New York City and Flagstaff, Arizona. They concluded that fewer than 1 in 5 pedestrians exhibited distracted behavior. Researchers also found that a majority of pedestrians, regardless of whether or not they were distracted, did not commit violations that made a crash more likely to occur.
It's a critical safety issue. Because pedestrians' bodies are almost totally unprotected in the event of a crash, such accidents are highly likely to cause severe injuries and fatalities. This research indicates that more often than not, it is the driver, not the pedestrian, who is responsible for those injuries.
New Mexico Pedestrian Accident Risks & Causation
New Mexico Statute § 66-7-334 gives pedestrians the right of way in all crosswalks where other traffic-control devices are not in place. It prohibits other drivers from overtaking or passing a vehicle stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk and requires pedestrians not to cross mid-block whenever possible where crosswalks are provided.
In far too many cases, negligent drivers are to blame for pedestrian deaths. Walkers just face out-sized risks, particularly here in New Mexico.
Proving Liability in Pedestrian Accident Cases
Studies like this are important as we continue to see a concerted effort to shift blame for these accidents to pedestrians. Much of the narrative has been pushed by auto insurance companies and their defense attorneys. Pedestrian accidents typically involve very serious or fatal injuries and are therefore among the most costly for insurance companies, so there is a strong incentive for them to blame the pedestrian, at least partially, for these crashes.
In most states, including New Mexico, the law of comparative negligence allows for reduced damage awards if the victim is found partially responsible for his or her injuries. In a few states, any negligence on the part of an injured person can bar a claim entirely. Thus, the myth of the distracted pedestrian has become a favorite legal defense in such cases.
In the event that you or a loved one is injured in a pedestrian accident in Albuquerque, a pedestrian accident attorney can help. Contact Szantho Law Firm for a free case evaluation.