There is no doubt that the times we are living in, are presenting 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 where the digital and physical worlds meet. Utilizing the phone’s camera, the player sees Pokémon characters overlaying the physical world depicted on their screen as captured by their phone’s camera.
Designed to be an immersive and fun experience for players, the game has turned into a nightmare for some individuals. With players focused on their phone’s small screen, players are tuning out the environment around them. Some players have been distracted to such an extent, that they have injured themselves and others while playing the game.
Pokémon Go Accidents
The game’s algorithm designates places like local landmarks, parks, beaches and churches as Pokéstops – locations where players can collect ammunition and other assets. Unfortunately, the game does not distinguish between safe and unsafe environments, and players unfamiliar with the new locations they are visiting are wandering into unsafe and dangerous situations.
Two Men Fall in Encinitas, CA
In Encinitas, near San Diego, firefighters say two men climbed through a fence while playing the newly released cellphone game. After crossing the fence line, 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.
15 Year Old in Pedestrian Accident
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 cuts and bruises as well as an injury to her collarbone and foot.
Trip-and-Fall Accidents Across the Nation
A number of slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall injuries have been reported as game players retell accounts of falling in ditches, falling down embankments, tripping over obstacles on the ground and more. The injuries are so common, that there are full threads dedicated to the topic on social platforms like Reddit.
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 ended up colliding with a tree, injuring the driver and totaling the car.
Liability for Pokémon Accidents
With thousands of people now navigating our world through the screen on their phones, a new type of distraction caused accident is on the rise. The question we ask now, is, who is responsible for these accidents? The game manufacturer? The game player?
While every case is unique, at the end of the day, it will almost invariably be the player who will be held responsible for their actions and any accident that is caused by them. If their game play causes injury to themselves or others, they are the negligent actor. It will be a difficult task to hold the game and its manufacturers, Niantic Labs, liable for any injuries sustained or damage caused.
Players new to the Pokémon Go game sign a lengthy waiver, indemnifying the game manufacturers from responsibility for injuries sustained or even death that occurs, along with responsibility for any laws that a user may violate while playing the game.
In accident and injury claims, 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 that is legally responsible for paying damages.
Some may want to say that the manufacturers of the game are the responsible party for the occurrence of accidents that happen during play of the game, whether in part or in full.
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.
What does this mean to you? If you have been injured by someone else who was distracted when the accident that caused your injury occurred, that person can and should be held responsible for any injuries you sustained. For those injured while playing the game, you will most likely be found responsible for your 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 distracted by something else, our team of attorneys may be able to help you make a financial recovery following the accident. We will hold the player responsible for their actions, and get you onto the road to recovery. To speak with a personal injury attorney, and to receive a free case consultation, call us today. You can call us toll free at (888) 845-9696.