The cell-phone is a source of information, communication, and constant connectivity – but it’s also created a significant hazard to users all over the world. Aside from the staggering rates of cell-phone-related car accidents, there is a rising problem with injuries from cell-phone use while walking. Cell-phone users are stepping into traffic, running into walls, falling downstairs, and suffering catastrophic injuries while staring at their phones. Texting, calling friends, listening to music, or scrolling through social media can be a good way to pass the time, but do so safely to avoid the risk of serious injury.
Cell-phone use behind the wheel poses a serious risk of harm to the driver, vehicle occupants, and pedestrians. But people don’t always realize the risk of cell-phone use outside the car. Many cell-phone users believe they can safely multitask, carrying out tasks on their phones while walking to their destination, across school campuses, or walking their dogs. Yet when you’re texting or talking on the phone, you are not fully in control of the complex action of walking.
People take the act of walking for granted, failing to realize how easily a simple walk can turn into a dangerous slip, trip, or fall accident, not to mention the very real danger of walking into traffic. Cell-phone users assume it’s safe to use a crosswalk and fail to look both ways, leading to catastrophic and fatal accidents.
This became such an issue in one German city that embedded traffic lights into the sidewalk so people would see them and wait for the safe signal while on their cell phones. The cell-phone is a very distracting device that pulls users away from the real world around them, making it impossible to fully focus on potential hazards such as traffic, uneven sidewalks, obstacles in the way, or a flight of stairs.
With the advent of augmented and virtual reality applications like last year’s famous Pokémon GO game, experts predict an increase in cell-phone related distraction injuries. During the height of the Pokémon GO craze, news stations reported a plethora of related injuries and even deaths around the world – so much so that there is a Pokémon GO death and injury tracker.
Users suffered injuries from playing the game while driving, falling down ditches, tripping over cinderblocks, and all-around not paying attention while walking. Unfortunately, distraction-related injuries are most often the cell-phone users’ own faults and therefore are not eligible for compensation. Other types of cell-phone-related injuries, however, may be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
Defective and Dangerous Cell-Phones
While the majority of cell-phone-related injuries stem from user distraction and failure to operate phones safely, some incidents come from manufacturer negligence. Recently, the cell-phone company Samsung came under fire for exploding batteries. Samsung voluntarily recalled more than 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones after reports of lithium-ion battery explosions. It appears that the batteries were exploding due to a mistake in the charging process, in which the software malfunctioned and caused the battery to charge too fast or too much. This destabilized the batteries and caused a chain reaction, sometimes resulting in fire or explosions. Smartphones overheating may also cause batteries to explode.
Improper smartphone manufacturing can lead to dangerous and defective devices, such as accidental scraps of metal or other materials ending up inside the phone during production. In the case of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, at least 35 fire/explosion cases were due to a manufacturing process error in which the cathode and anode battery components touched. If you or a loved one sustained an injury related to cell-phone use, contact an attorney to explore your rights as a consumer.