Wearing headphones while walking on busy city streets, riding a bicycle, or driving a car can increase the risk of accidents. Headphones are potentially distracting and take away the ability to hear sounds like sirens, horns, and verbal warnings. When an accident does happen and serious injury results, the fact that one party was wearing headphones can be a factor in the process of determining legal liability.
Wearing headphones likely is not negligence per se in Nevada
People operating vehicles are not required to be able to hear, and in Nevada it is not illegal to wear headphones while driving or riding a bicycle. In the context of a lawsuit, this means that wearing headphones is not negligence per se absent a local ordinance that changes the default rule. Negligence per se can be used to shift the burden of proof from one party to the other, by showing that a party was violating a law or regulation at the time of the accident. But someone involved in an accident with a person wearing headphones probably can’t use this theory.
So, can wearing headphones be negligence?
Whether headphones contributed to an accident in a way that constitutes negligence will depend on the circumstances. Headphones might contribute to someone not paying close attention in dangerous situations. For example, a commercial truck that is backing up will have a warning signal that someone with headphones might not hear. A pedestrian or bicyclist might not hear a siren and get in front of a speeding emergency vehicle. Someone might not hear a warning horn given by a driver.
In each of these examples, there’s the possibility that the person wearing headphones committed contributory negligence. In a situation where headphones are actually a distraction and not just cancelling out someone’s hearing, this theory could be used by the other party in litigation to shift some or all of the liability for an accident.
Nevada is a modified comparative negligence state. The potential compensation available in a lawsuit will be reduced by the extent to which a plaintiff’s negligence contributed to the damages the plaintiff is seeking to recover. If a jury finds that under the circumstances wearing headphones constituted negligence, it might assign a percentage of fault to that fact. A plaintiff who is 50% or more at fault cannot recover anything from the defendant.
GGRM is listening
Because the law doesn’t require that anyone be able to hear (for obvious reasons), proving that wearing headphones was a negligent act can be difficult. An experienced personal injury lawyer can examine the facts of an accident to determine the best legal strategies for recovering compensation. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served clients in the Las Vegas area. Our attorneys are happy to answer your personal injury questions. For a free attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476, or send us a request through our site.