A Proposed New Law in Massachusetts May Impact Pedestrian Accidents

Many television news stations, including Channel 7 Boston, reported yesterday that Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a new bill that would impose fines on pedestrians. The motive for the new law is to save lives and protect drivers. The proposed new law would increase the fines for illegally crossing (crossing without a traffic signal) the street from $1 to $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second, and $100 for the third offense.

Additionally, the new proposed law would also impose a fine for pedestrians who cross the street while using a mobile or electronic device. Yes, that’s right, the new law would fine a pedestrian for using their smart phone, tablet or ear phones when crossing the street. Those fines would be $50 for first offense, $100 for second and $200 for the third.

So, you’re wondering, how does that impact a personal injury case for a pedestrian that was hit and injured by a car? Let’s take a closer look.

Overview of Pedestrian Accident Cases in Massachusetts.

I have previously written about pedestrian accidents and injuries. When a pedestrian is hit by a car and injured, he or she has the right to file a personal injury claim with the insurance company that insures the motor vehicle. In that personal injury claim or case, the pedestrian has the burden of proving or establishing that the driver of the motor vehicle was negligent. 

Negligence is a legal cause of action on which a personal injury claim or lawsuit is filed seeking financial damages to compensate the injured party.  So, a pedestrian hit and injured by a car in Massachusetts is alleging the driver of the car was negligent and that their negligence caused the pedestrian’s injuries. 

The Proposed New Law for Pedestrians May Make it More Difficult to Obtain Compensation After Being Hit by a Car

Although current laws in Massachusetts seem to protect pedestrians (i.e.,  M.G.L. c 89 § 11 “When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be so to yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk…”), they don’t automatically guarantee compensation to an injured pedestrian.  There are numerous factors that must be examined before imputing negligence on the driver of the car.  For instance, traffic lights and signals, obstructions, the time of day the accident occurred the color clothing the pedestrian was wearing, the actions of the pedestrian, etc... 

Believe it or not, insurance companies routinely fight pedestrian accident cases. The enactment of the new proposed law may provide insurance companies another reason to fight and deny claims for compensation from injured pedestrians.

As an illustration, let us assume this new law is put into place and a pedestrian is hit and injured by a car while crossing the street. If the pedestrian is fined for crossing the street while using an electronic device (looking down at their smart phone), the insurance company will, undoubtedly, use that fine to their advantage. They will contend the pedestrian was negligent for failing to pay proper attention when crossing the street and deny the injury claim. Or, they may claim the pedestrian was comparatively negligent and reduce any award of compensation by the percentage of fault attributed to the pedestrian.

Final Thoughts on Pedestrian Accidents

While we specialize in representing people injured in Massachusetts get the financial compensation they deserve, we also want to help protect people from serious injury. Whether the new proposed law for pedestrians is passed or not, anyone crossing the street should always pay attention to the traffic in order to safely cross the road.

Trust us, we have helped many clients get the money they deserve for their injuries, but most of them say they would gladly give the money back if they could be back in the physical condition they were in before the accident. So, next time you are crossing the street, for your own safety, put your phone away or take out your ear buds.

Get Expert Legal Advice Today

Mahaney & Pappas, LLP has over 35 years of experience handling personal injury claims.  We have successfully represented many pedestrians, who were hit and seriously injured by cars while crossing the street.  Our experience and knowledge of injury cases offer accident victims an advantage against insurance companies in getting fair compensation for injuries. 

Call us today at (508) 879-3500 or contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation.  

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