Pokémon Go Lawsuits and Personal Injury Law

pokemon lawsuitThe Pokemon Go craze is well underway since its United States release on July 6. In a July 14 post, Fox News reported that daily use figures for the gaming app already exceed those of Twitter, Spotify and Pandora.

The augmented reality game plants imaginary character characters in the real world, and it rewards people who find them in local stores, in parks, near landmarks and in other parts of the community. Some players credit the app for getting them outdoors where they become more physically active.

Local Police Department Issues Warning

In Shakopee, Minnesota, police formally issued a statement warning of potential car accidents, trespassing issues and robberies linked to Pokémon Go. Although no such incidents are reported in that community thus far, the police statement said “If you are playing, please play responsibly. Make sure you are respectful of private property. It is illegal and dangerous to play while driving.”

Minnesota Senator Al Franken has called for the developer to provide more clarity as to how it in intends to handle the security and privacy concerns.

Multiple Accident Reports

A series of accidents mere days after the introduction of the app demonstrate that there are things players should avoid. Gary Beyer, a professor of law at Texas Tech University, says bluntly, “Death by Pokémon is coming.”

Pokémon Go safety tips: What NOT to do when playing Pokémon Go:

Driving while playing A man in Auburn, New York, was reportedly playing Pokémon go when his car veered off the road and into a tree, according to the New York Daily News. The Auburn police chief reported that the man was not seriously injured.

According to FOX News, Texas A&M University police reported that, on Monday, July 11, a vehicle struck an illegally parked vehicle whose driver had “exited to catch a Pokémon.”

Pedestrians in harm’s way – Fox News also reports that less than an hour after the app was released, a Reddit user reported slipping and falling into a ditch, fracturing a foot bone. The Pokémon Go player warned, “Watch where you’re going folks!.”

Although a 15-year-old girl was not reportedly looking at the game on her smart phone as she crossed the street in Tarentum, Pennsylvania. However, it did reportedly lead her to make a decision to cross a busy four-lane highway during rush hour as she played the game.

Trespassing dangers  Beyer warned that enthusiastic players lured into trespassing in pursuit of Pokemon rewards might be injured or even killed by property owners who see them as home invaders. Such property owners may claim they are acting in self-defense. He flatly states that “Pokémon users certainly will be liable for trespassing.”

Warnings and Liability Disclaimers

Niantic, the app’s developer, has addressed trespassing concerns in two ways. First, the terms of use state that players cannot enter private property without permission. Also, every time the app is opened, a pop-up warning tells players to remain aware of their surroundings. Niantic also includes a liability disclaimer stating it is not responsible for deaths, injuries or property damage that occurs while individuals play the game.

As the Pokémon Go craze continues, the cautionary words of the Shakopee police are worth heeding throughout Minnesota and across the country. If accidents linked to app use continue, it is possible that the developer of Pokemon Go may be named as a defendant in future liability litigation.

A motorist causing an injury accident while playing Pokemon Go could be held responsible for his/her negligent conduct. Victims might seek compensation for various losses and expenses, like medical expenses, pain, suffering and lost wages.

If you or a family member is a victim in a crash, we make it is possible to discuss the details with an attorney at no cost to you. We fight hard to get our clients every dollar they deserve under the law. To learn more about our legal services, please contact us.