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You know – or at least you should know – that driving and using your handheld phone at the same time is a bad idea. But these days, distracted driving is being challenged as a source of accidents by a related phenomenon, distracted walking.

When you drive down Manhattan streets you can’t help but to see them everywhere: “deadwalkers,” the term used to describe pedestrians paying more attention to their portable electronics than to their surroundings. The trouble is, although you may not be able to miss seeing them from your car, the same characteristics of their personal electronics that so engross them can make it easy for them to miss you.

So what happens if you get into an accident with one of them?

To begin with, we hope that your car’s close encounter with a deadwalker is not so serious that it results in an injury or a fatality. But even a minor pedestrian accident can still lead to you being charged with a statutory violation. If this happens, the least you might be faced with is a citation. In more serious situations, you could even face jail time.

It can be a defense, however, if you can demonstrate that the pedestrian was at least partially or even wholly at fault for causing his own injury by being inattentive and thereby placing himself in risk of harm. In the best-case scenario, this may lead to dropped charges; even if the police and prosecutors contend that you were to blame to some degree, you may still be able to use the pedestrian’s carelessness as a means to negotiate a plea deal to a lesser charge. And if the matter goes to trial, a pedestrian’s own negligent inattention can help to sway a jury’s collective opinion favorably toward you.

In any of these scenarios, if you are facing charges in connection with a pedestrian-related traffic violation, your first step should be to consult with a law firm that is intimately familiar New York traffic laws and experienced with defending clients who have been accused of breaking those laws. Such familiarity and experience can make all the difference in obtaining the best possible outcome when it comes to preserving your personal liberty as well as your wallet.

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