In the state of Nebraska, a bill is being discussed that would give those who have to use wheelchairs in a crosswalk the same rights and protections as those who choose to walk or jog in crosswalks. This means that if a wheelchair user who follows the traffic rules is hit by a vehicle, he or she will be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit under the same law that covers pedestrians. This is a boost for those in wheelchairs who may have felt that their personal injury rights were not being met by lawmakers.
This new amendment has advanced to the second debating rounds. Legislators for Nebraska have said they felt it was important to amend the bill because it only protected pedestrians, not those who needed wheelchairs. In fact, as the original bill is written, wheelchair users who become victims of accidents are not allowed to sue drivers for any kind of damages.
The additions to Bill 641 would give wheelchair users liability protections. The amendment is focusing attention on crosswalks, but sidewalks are included in the language. As long as the wheelchair users have obeyed the rules of the road, such as paying attention to traffic signals, they will be protected.
This is exceptional news for everyone in Nebraska who uses a wheelchair due to accessibility issues. Disabled individuals deserve to feel supported by their local and state governments. If the amendment passes, they finally have legal recourse if they suffer personal injury at the hands of a negligent party while operating their wheelchair in a crosswalk.
Source: starherald.com, “Nebraska lawmakers back protections for wheelchair users in crosswalks — but not for bicyclists“, Joe Duggan, Mar. 25, 2015