Pokémon GO: Personal Injury, Accidents, and Liability

This summer, Pokémon GO has taken the world by storm. First released in July, it’s a phone application that uses augmented reality to allow users to catch digital Pokémon in real life. It uses a phone’s camera and GPS to create this augmented reality and users must walk outside to catch and battle Pokémon.

There are many benefits of this new app – users get outside and get exercise walking around, they can interact with new people, and socialize with friends. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to get engrossed in the game and people are spending a lot of time staring at their phones, not paying attention to their surroundings. There have already been Pokémon GO accidents and injuries caused by the game and people ignoring their surroundings.

Because this is such new technology, the issue of fault or negligence is still a grey area but important for personal injury law. There are a variety of factors to keep in mind when thinking about liability and Pokémon GO personal injury.

Liabilities in Pokémon GO

The accidents and injuries reported by Pokémon GO players have ranged from trips and falls, walking into objects, colliding with other people, and one unfortunate man even drove into a police car. The question is, who is liable or at fault for these various injuries?

The game makers, Niantic, have done their best to prevent themselves from being held liable in case of Pokémon GO injuries or accidents. They include various warnings when the app is in use reminding users to stay aware of their surroundings, watch where they’re going, and stay out of unsafe or private areas and property. They also have a detailed Terms and Conditions explaining that the user is responsible and Niantic is not liable for any injuries resulting from use of the app. However, it’s still unclear whether these Terms and Conditions would hold up in court if someone attempts to sue Niantic.

Trespassing has become a problem for private property owners and businesses alike by people searching for Pokémon. It’s important to remember that if someone trespasses on your private property and suffers an injury, you could still be held partially at fault for the injury. It’s always essential to ensure you have proper home insurance coverage to protect yourself from potential trespassers, particularly if you know you’re at a Pokestop or a Pokegym, where many players will gather. It can be helpful to put up ‘No Trespassing’ signs or, even better, specific signs asking Pokémon GO players to stay off your property. That way, if there is an incident, you may carry less responsibility.

For those playing Pokémon GO, you must always ask yourself where you are playing. Are you on public or private property? Would you be allowed here if you weren’t playing? You should always respect private property and any warning signs that the owners have posted. If you’re caught trespassing, you will face fines or other consequences that can’t be defended by saying you were playing Pokémon GO. If you suffer an injury while trespassing, or while not paying attention while you’re walking, you could be held partially at fault for causing or contributing to the accident and your claim for damages will be reduced. It’s essential to always be aware of your surroundings to avoid at-fault injuries.

Distracted Driving and Pokémon GO

It should go without saying that you shouldn’t be playing Pokémon GO while driving. Unfortunately, many people have been caught doing just this and some have even been involved in accidents because of it. Playing any game on your phone while driving counts as distracted driving in Ontario and you’ll face the penalties for this. An increase in insurance, a totalled car, or a loss of life are not worth catching some Pokémon.

Pedestrians playing Pokémon GO also have to be cognizant of drivers and the rules of the road. Usually, in the case of a car accident involving a pedestrian, the driver is assumed to be at fault. In the case of the pedestrian not paying attention due to playing games on their phone, however, the pedestrian can be at fault or partially at fault too.

Contact Nyland Personal Injury Law

If you find yourself injured because of playing Pokémon GO, or if a claim is being filed against you involving this app, you should treat it as a regular personal injury claim. Notify the authorities, document the injury, seek medical attention, and take photos of the scene.

Nyland Personal Injury Law can help with all stages of the personal injury claim process. Contact us today for a free consultation.