Normally, pedestrians aren’t subject to fines or jail time for wearing headphones while walking but wearing headphones can undermine legal claims when harmed by a driver.
For instance, if a pedestrian is injured in a crosswalk by a moving vehicle while wearing headphones, it can be argued in court that the pedestrian may be at fault for not being fully aware of their surroundings.
Steve Vaccaro, a lawyer who specializes in representing pedestrians and cyclists who have been harmed by vehicles, warns that judges and juries can hold the plaintiff accountable if they were distracted.
I have had cases where I believe the jury has held it against a pedestrian even for just having a phone with them,” says Vaccaro to the New York Times. “The defense counsel makes a huge deal out of that.”