Pedestrian injuries and deaths are an unfortunate reality every state has to deal with and address in its highway safety initiatives. The problem, to be adequately addressed, though, requires attention not only to the habits of motorists, but also to the problem of distracted walking and walking while intoxicated or drugged. The latter problem leads to numerous deaths every year.

Some states, of course, fare worse than others in this area, New Jersey being one of them. Massachusetts, fortunately, ranked lowest for the problem between 2010 and 2013. Walking while intoxicated or drugged presents an interesting problem from the perspective of personal injury and wrongful death litigation—how do you apportion liability when a negligent driver harms an intoxicated or drugged pedestrian?

In cases where an injured pedestrian sues a motorist, it has to be established that the motorist was negligent. If so, the question may be brought up whether the pedestrian made any contribution to his or her own injuries. As we’ve previously written, Massachusetts law recognizes the principle of comparative negligence, which allows juries to assign a proportionate degree of fault to all the parties involved in litigation.

An intoxicated pedestrian who is injured by a negligent motorist may, depending on the circumstances of the case, have their damages award reduced to the degree they are determined to be at fault for their own injuries. No recovery would be possible if the pedestrian is determined to be at least 51 percent responsible for his or her own injuries.

Those who are injured in a motor vehicle accident should always seek to have their rights protected in the legal process. This is all the more true of cases where one could have one’s damages award reduced due to accusations of contributory negligence.