Catch a Pokemon, Not an Injury

Catch a Pokemon, Not an Injury

Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve heard about the Pokemon Go game by now. The game, which downloads to a smart phone as an app, allows one to visit various sites where various characters will appear on your phone screen. The app has become hugely popular in the last few weeks, with players flocking to places where they can “catch” a Pokemon character.

The creators of Pokemon Go deserve credit for devising a clever way to get people outdoors and walking around. Anything that gets people off couches and chairs is a good thing. However, we are appealing to people to use some common sense and caution when playing this game. There have been some unfortunate accidents already, such as:

  • The Washington Post reported that a man in Baltimore sideswiped a marked patrol car while driving and playing on the app. Fortunately, no one was injured. The man reportedly got out of the car, shook his head, and said to the police officers, “That’s what I get for playing this dumb a** game.”
  • Last week, a 15-year-old girl in Pittsburgh walked into traffic while playing. She ended up with injuries to her collarbone and foot. Obviously, that could have been much worse too.
  • A 28-year-old driver in Auburn Hills, New York, reportedly crashed into a tree while trying to play while driving. The car was totaled.
  • Two men fell off a seaside cliff near San Diego, California, while reportedly playing Pokemon Go. They climbed a fence and ignored warning signs to reach the cliff. One of the players fell about 50 feet, and the other fell 80-90 feet. Both men were injured and had to be rescued by a fire department.

The lessons here are pretty obvious. One should never play Pokemon Go while driving. Distracted driving, as we’ve discussed on this blog many times, is one of the most dangerous things one can do behind the wheel. Playing Pokemon Go as a vehicle operator is as bad as texting and driving.

People should also pay attention to their surroundings while walking and playing. One should never get so engrossed in the game that they don’t look up to avoid trees, cliffs, fountains, and other hazards. The risk of serious injury, not to mention embarrassment, just isn’t worth it.

Legally, playing the game is not a license to behave carelessly or ignore your surroundings. No one will get a free pass in court for causing an accident while playing. In our opinion as lawyers, no one will be able to blame the creators of the game for their own negligence either. Essentially, everyone plays at their own risk.

Bottom line: people should enjoy the game, but also remember that playing doesn’t suspend their duty to use reasonable care. Have fun, but be careful.

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