The high-tech society in which we live constantly presents us with new and unexpected challenges to public safety. Case in point is the recently released and wildly popular augmented reality game – Pokémon Go.
Combining the Pokémon characters with a mobile phone’s GPS capabilities, Pokémon Go provides players with an interactive gaming experience that combines the digital and physical worlds. Utilizing the phone’s camera, the player sees Pokémon characters overlaying the physical world shown on their screen.
With players focused on their phone’s small screen, they tune out the environment around them. Some players have been distracted to such an extent that they have injured themselves and others while playing.
Pokémon Go Accidents
The game’s algorithm designates local landmarks, parks, beaches and churches as Pokéstops – locations where players can collect game assets. Unfortunately, the game does not distinguish between safe and unsafe environments, and players unfamiliar with the new locations have wandered into dangerous situations.
In Encinitas, firefighters say two men climbed through a fence while playing Pokémon Go. One man fell approximately 50 feet down the side of an unstable bluff and the second man fell 90 feet to the beach below. The men were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
In Pennsylvania, a 15-year-old girl was playing the Pokémon game as she crossed a busy street and was hit by a car. The girl was hospitalized, sustaining injuries to her collarbone and foot, as well as cuts and bruises.
In Auburn, New York a 28-year-old man’s vehicle veered off the road as he attempted to catch a Pokémon character while driving. The vehicle collided with a tree, injuring the driver and totaling the car in the accident.
A number of slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall injuries have been reported of game players falling in ditches, falling down embankments, tripping over obstacles on the ground, and more. There are full threads dedicated to the topic on Reddit and other social platforms.
Liability for Pokémon Accidents
It will be difficult to hold the game and its manufacturers, Niantic Labs, liable for any injuries sustained or damage caused, because anyone who downloads the Pokémon Go game agrees to a lengthy waiver indemnifying the game manufacturers from responsibility for injuries sustained or even death that occurs, along with responsibility for any laws a user may violate while playing the game.
While every case is unique, it will usually be the player who is held responsible for any accident he or she caused through their negligence. The term “negligence” is used to characterize conduct that creates an unreasonable risk of harm to others. The negligent party in an accident is the party legally responsible for paying damages.
Contributory negligence is a specific negligence concept that is used to characterize the actions of an individual as creating an unreasonable risk to themselves. The concept holds that an individual has a duty to act as a reasonable person. When they act in an unreasonable way and an accident occurs, that person may be held responsible in part or in full for damages. In most U.S. states, including California and Illinois, a comparative negligence approach to contributory negligence has been taken, where each party’s negligence for a given injury is factored into how damages are awarded.
Comparative negligence is a complicated legal topic that calls for legal consultation with an experienced injury attorney to discuss the facts of your specific case. The attorneys at TorkLaw offer free case consultations to discuss comparative negligence maters with injured individuals.
With Pokémon Go accident cases, it is expected that cases will be treated like most other forms of distracted accidents (texting and driving for example) – holding the distracted individual wholly responsible for their actions on the grounds that they were acting as an unreasonable operator.
Those injured while playing the game will likely be found responsible for their own injuries. However, as with all accident cases where fault is questioned, we encourage you to consult with one of our attorneys.
Have You Been Injured by a Pokémon Go Player?
If you have been injured by a person who was distracted by the Pokémon Go game or something else, our team of attorneys may be able to help you make a financial recovery. To speak with a personal injury attorney, and to receive a free case consultation, call us toll free at 888.845.9696.