Something more than a few of us have probably been guilty of at least once in our lives is having our heads buried down in our phones while we’re walking in a public place. In Hawaii, a new law means you can be fined up to $99 if you’re caught staring at a screen and walking on city streets – not just for those using smartphones, but tablets and video games, too. Nicknamed the “smartphone zombie” law, the Distracted Walking Law applies to device-using pedestrians in Hawaii’s capital city, Honolulu. This is the first law targeting distracted walking to increase road safety to pass in the United States.
Pedestrian deaths nationwide are on the rise, with the Governors Highway Safety Association reporting an 11 percent increase year-over-year in 2016, citing smartphone technology usage as a contributing factor. Looking at a screen while walking poses risks including:
- Walking into oncoming traffic
- Not noticing a car turning into a crosswalk
- Moving in front of a cyclist
- Crashing into another pedestrian and causing a fall
- Having a delayed reaction time when danger strikes
People who text and walk are about four times more likely to engage in at least one dangerous action, such as not looking both ways or jaywalking, and they take nearly 20 percent longer to cross a street than a non-distracted pedestrian does, reports The New York Times. Not only does staring at a screen while you’re walking endanger you, but it can cause catastrophic events around you if you collide with someone – or a vehicle.
The new distracted walking law in Honolulu places the burden of road safety on pedestrians, as well as drivers, and makes an exception for pedestrians who are using a cell phone to call emergency services. It will be interesting to watch how Hawaii’s new law enforcement affects pedestrian accident and death statistics, and if other states follow suit.
Distracted Walking Laws Around the World
While Honolulu is the first major American city to enact a law against texting and walking, several places throughout the globe are already combating the dangers. Some actions that may make their way State-side some day include:
- In certain parts of the Netherlands, Russia and Germany, embedded LED lighting strips alert pedestrians when traffic lights are changing, so those looking at their smartphones are still alerted
- Chongqing, China, has “smartphone lanes,” which are differentiated from non-distracted pedestrian lanes
- India has “no selfie zones” to prevent deaths from stampeding
In the U.S., several communities including those in California, Idaho and New York remind walkers about the importance of paying attention to where they’re going, through signage and community outreach. At least 10 states have debated legislation regarding distracted pedestrians and bicyclists.
More Device Distraction Dangers
Device usage while walking isn’t just dangerous for pedestrians. Using a smartphone while driving can have dire consequences. Already, 47 states as well as the District of Columbia and U.S. territories ban text messaging by drivers.
The Federal Communications Commission reports there are about 8 deaths and nearly 1,200 injuries a day in accidents caused by distracted drivers in the United States. A driver who is traveling at 60 mph and takes their eyes off the road for 1 second can travel nearly 90 feet, making the risk of a deadly accident more likely than some would think.
When Texting While Walking Becomes a Legal Issue
Each state has different stipulations regarding pedestrian rights in accidents. Pedestrians who are distracted by smartphones don’t just pose a danger to motorists. They can also cause serious accidents with other pedestrians, as well as cyclists, children and other parties.
While pedestrians often get the right-of-way when they’re around vehicles, there are laws they must follow in order to create a safe environment for drivers, too. For example, in Alabama, drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing roadways in a crosswalk when traffic control signals are not operating. However, pedestrians break the law whenever they leave a curb or other safe place, enter the path of a vehicle, and become a hazard. In this case, if a pedestrian is looking at a device and heads into traffic, the situation may be deemed negligence on the part of the pedestrian. If serious injuries were sustained on behalf of the driver, pedestrian or other parties, their use of a device becomes an important aspect of a possible claim.
The best way to stay safe is to be aware of the rise in pedestrian fatalities and injuries, many of which are caused by device usage. As a driver, understand that pedestrians may not be paying attention, and employe safe driving behavior at all times. As a pedestrian, know that even if you don’t get fined for device usage while walking like you would in Honolulu, you could cause a serious injury or even death by distractedly walking.
Need information on a Birmingham personal injury or other attorney assistance? Call Pittman, Dutton & Hellums at (866) 722-0250 for a free consultation.
If you are a business owner, having knowledge about the types of lawsuits that affect businesses can help you prepare should you need to file one or find yourself in one some day. Commercial litigation encompasses any type of dispute that can happen in a business setting. Whether you want to file a claim against a key stakeholder who left and illegally impacted business finances, or you need to protect yourself against a breach of contract, these types of legal business issues fall under commercial litigation.
Unlike civil litigation, where a lawsuit occurs between two parties and a plaintiff seeks compensation or damages from a defendant, in commercial litigation, the business entity becomes one of the parties. Commercial litigation may involve:
- A business versus a business
- An individual versus a business
- Several individuals versus a business
- A business versus a government entity
While many of the aspects between civil litigation and business litigation may be similar, such as research discovery and court trials, commercial litigation can get extremely more complicated because of the complexity of the issues and stakeholders involved. Consumer class action lawsuits are a type of commercial litigation, in which several (sometimes thousands) of plaintiffs file a lawsuit together as one. This may happen when a negligent company disseminates a dangerous prescription drug, for example.
Because the stakes of a business reputation and business finances are at risk, commercial litigation lawsuits may last much longer than civil lawsuits, as well. These complexities warrant the need for an expert commercial litigation team to navigate to make the process successful for the parties they’re representing.
Types of Commercial Litigation
Commercial litigation includes virtually any case that involves a business and its strategy and implementation of that strategy. Some of these types of cases include:
- Breach of contract
- Employment disputes
- Intellectual property
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Real estate fraud
- Technology disputes
- Unlawful competition
- Wage and hour claims
Some litigious incidents that happen at a business, such as someone falling or slipping in a store, would not fall under commercial litigation – rather, that would be a personal injury case if the plaintiff decides to sue.
Some lawsuits against a company can debilitate a venture, bankrupting the company and tarnishing the name and reputation of not only the business, but of its executives and employees associated with it. Some commercial lawsuits become “bet the company” cases, where the outcome of a company’s performance depends on a single lawsuit. This outcome may hinge on the financial stakes of the lawsuit, the ability to use intellectual property that is concerned in a lawsuit, or a combination of a number of other factors.
“Bet the company” cases aren’t the only lawsuits that cause headaches for companies. Law dealings that aren’t handled by the proper team can result in production stoppages, recalls of products and more. Having an experienced lawyer to handle all business dealings in the first place helps to ensure a company is protected in their operations.
Benefits of a Relationship with a Commercial Litigation Lawyer
Business owners hope they never end up in court, but the grim reality is that disputes happen more often than you might think. According to the BTI Litigation Outlook 2018: Changes, Trends, and Opportunities for Law Firms report by independent research firm BTI Consulting Group, the number one litigation trend in 2018 is the expected increase in litigation spending by businesses. The report shows large companies are adding $1 billion in litigation spending this year. Settlements are also expected to reach a record high in 2018.
To protect the most precious assets a business has – employees, finances and reputation – forming relationships with a commercial litigation law firm can help a business to understand current lawsuit trends they should be aware of. The best lawsuit protection is to avoid one in the first place, but having a strong relationship with a commercial litigation attorney benefits a business that experiences it. Often, commercial litigation cases involve forensic investigations, witness interviews and other complicated research, which is where an attorney’s assistance is vital.
For individuals, going after businesses in a dispute is challenging. While there are so many laws in place to protect employees and customers, large corporations often have extensive, experienced legal teams to protect them. Having an attorney on your side to fight for you is paramount.
If you are a business owner or an individual who has questions about commercial litigation, the Birmingham commercial litigation attorneys at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums can help. Call (866) 722-0250 or text (205) 900-4188 for a free consultation.
Injuries are common in the United States, and chances are good you’ll encounter one that requires expert help sometimes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there are 83.6 million visits to physician offices for injuries each year, and 42.3 million visits to emergency departments each year. When serious injuries occur because of the negligence of another party, you may consider filing a lawsuit to recover compensation for medical costs, time missed off work, pain, and suffering, and more. But when do you need a personal injury lawyer?
At Pittman, Dutton & Hellums, we are a personal injury lawyer Birmingham firm with decades of experience helping personal injury victims. If you’ve suffered a serious injury that required medical attention and has cost you financially, here is a 10-point checklist to go through to determine whether or not you might need a personal injury lawyer.
If you have any questions whatsoever after a serious personal injury where negligence may have been involved, please contact the personal injury law team at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums online or at (866) 722-0250 for a free consultation.
1. What settlement did you receive from the insurance company?
It’s in the best interest of insurance companies to keep their costs low. Often, they’ll offer a low-ball amount for a settlement or, worse, offer nothing at all. If you are confident you are entitled to compensation because another party is at fault in your injury, a personal injury attorney will negotiate with an insurance company on your behalf.
2. Are there expert witnesses who can help or hurt your case?
Gathering witness testimony and conversing with witnesses in court are often some of the most important elements of a personal injury case. If other people witnessed your injury, or if there is video camera footage of the situation you may not be aware of, a personal injury lawyer will contact witnesses and gather the testimony and evidence needed to strengthen your case.
3. Is liability clear?
Sometimes, a personal injury case will involve multiple parties. More than one may be liable for your personal injury, or the exact guilty party may be unclear. If you are confused about liability, a personal injury lawyer will be able to pinpoint the cause of the case.
4. What evidence do you have to present?
You might have substantial evidence to present in your case, but doing so effectively can get complicated. A personal injury lawyer with experience representing victims will be able to collect the most meaningful pieces of evidence and present them accordingly.
5. Are you prepared to represent your case if it goes to trial?
Sometimes personal injury claims are handled quickly and simply, without any in-person meetings. Other times, they escalate to a courtroom setting. Self-representation in a personal injury case is something some victims pursue, while others want the confident and competent presence of a personal injury attorney representing them in the courtroom.
6. Are you sure about the accuracy of your loss calculation?
Knowing how much you are entitled to is a vital figure to master for your personal injury claim. Many times, this figure becomes complicated quickly because factors such as medical bills, costs for time missed off work, psychological trauma and other elements need to be considered for an accurate loss calculation. A personal injury lawyer ensures you don’t miss anything.
7. How much time can you devote to your case?
Responding to messages, conversing with a law team, gathering and organizing evidence, preparing testimony, and more are all time-consuming tasks. If you are working, have familial responsibilities, or want to focus on your recovery, a personal injury lawyer can alleviate the time requirement of personal injury cases.
8. Has a lawyer from the defense team contacted you?
The wrong response to a lawyer can hurt your claim. Any action you take as your claim is being settled can be evaluated, judged and applied to your case. When the defendant lawyers up, having a legal team in your corner can protect you from hurting your own case. Additionally, if you are unsure about any type of documentation the defense party presents you with, including letters and statements, a personal injury lawyer will be able to decipher and respond appropriately to legal jargon.
9. How complex are your medical issues?
In addition to presenting complex medical records during a personal injury claim, often, doctors involved and other medical experts may be brought in to offer testimony regarding the severity of an injury. Contacting the right experts and asking the right questions is paramount to the success of a personal injury case.
10. How much is your case worth?
Depending on the personal injury situation and the parties involved, your personal injury case may be worth thousands of dollars, tens of thousands of dollars, hundreds of dollars, or even millions or billions of dollars. When dealing with large corporations, government entities and other substantial figures on the defense team, a personal injury lawyer can help you secure the compensation you deserve and fight against an experienced defense team.
If you don’t have time to do the research, contact the witnesses, gather the evidence, and organize the case you want, a conversation with a personal injury lawyer is a wise step to take. The statute of limitations may limit the amount of time you have to pursue a personal injury case. It’s important to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to learn whether working with a lawyer is best for your case.