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    OMG! Manhole claims texter!

    Date: 07.22.09 | by Judge Tom.

    Alexa Longueira of Staten Island, New York, discovered the danger in texting and walking at the same time. Earlier this month, the 15-year-old fell into an uncovered manhole. She fell five to six feet into the sewer and suffered scrapes on her arms and back.

    Street workers were on the scene and claimed to have left the manhole for just a few seconds to get some cones and markers from their truck to barricade it. They helped Alexa out of the muck and she was taken to a hospital where she was checked out. Her family indicated they will file a lawsuit.

    Who’s at fault here?  The city has a responsibility to secure a work area and protect the public, right?  Does Alexa have any responsibility to be careful and not engage in risky behavior? Since texting requires your attention and eyes to be on your cell phone, are you at fault if you hurt yourself because of not paying attention to your surroundings?

    In the law there is a concept called “comparative negligence” or “contributory negligence.” It means when both parties of a lawsuit each share some responsibility for an accident, the jury or court decides what percentage each is at fault. The result reduces the amount the plaintiff  [the person who sues] wins based on the percent of fault the plaintiff contributed to his or her injury. What do you think the outcome of Alexa’s  lawsuit will be?

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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