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Pokémon NO! Latest Game Craze Spurs Widespread Injuries and Damage

By now, you’ve probably heard about Pokémon Go, the augmented reality game that has captured the country’s fascination – and attracted untold thousands of players – since its recent introduction in July 2016.

In the event you yourself aren’t hunting Pokémon creatures, or you’re not yet tuned into its rules, here’s a quick rundown: The free, location-based game prompts players to locate, capture, battle and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on their mobile devices as if they existed in the same real-world location as the player.

The game itself prompts players to explore their surroundings and co-mingle with others in their quest, which is fine. Things get problematic, though, when players find themselves in potentially compromising situations—either through their own actions or the actions of others. And, the immersive nature of the game itself tends to capture an undue amount of a player’s attention, leading to any or all of the following:

  • Unpleasant discoveries, like the corpse that a man came upon while playing Pokémon Go in Nashua, New Hampshire
  • Vehicle accidents, which are too numerous and varied to catalog in the space of our blog. Suffice it to say, they range from mild fender-benders to single-car plunges into ditches, multi-vehicle pileups, hit and runs, vehicle-pedestrian accidents and more
  • Stabbings, shootings, gunfights, fistfights, muggings, tasings, assaults and other transgressions that vary from mildly aggressive to potentially homicidal
  • Self-induced misfortunes, including two men who accidentally fell off a cliff in Encinitas, California (they survived); an Iowa football player who was mistaken for a bank robbery suspect by police in Iowa City; a group of Pokémon Go players who got locked in a Pennsylvania cemetery; a New Jersey woman who got stuck in a tree and required emergency rescue; a teen who sustained a venomous snake bite (she pulled through); and a pregnant woman playing the game who needed an emergency C-section after she was struck by a driver allegedly targeting her in Gladstone, Missouri
  • Multiple trespassings and incidents of breaking and entering, including incidents at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, the Toledo Zoo and the Darwin, Australia police station
  • Extremely questionable placements of Pokémon creatures, from the Westboro Baptist Church to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the Washington Holocaust Museum

You get the point. From these and other tales of misadventure and woe, we hope you’ll take away three important lessons from this blog:

(1)   BE REALLY, REALLY CAREFUL. If you are playing or decide to play Pokémon Go, please do so with ultimate care for yourself, your surroundings, and others in your immediate or anticipated sphere (e.g., people, pets, animals, and personal and public property). Never play Pokémon Go while operating a motor vehicle or power equipment of any kind, and while you’re walking – no matter where you happen to be walking – be alert, and don’t lose yourself in your mobile device. Doing so leaves you open to tribulations of every scope and size—and it puts others in danger of your negligence, which in turn, could leave you potentially liable for their injuries or damages.

(2)   Understand whether or not you can sue the game’s developer if you sustain injuries or damages while playing. If you are playing or decide to play Pokémon Go and sustain injuries or damage in the process, you may or may not have a case against Pokémon Go developer Niantic.

Players must accept the game’s Terms of Service before signing up and playing. Like most terms of service, they are lengthy, filled with legalese, and in this case, include an “arbitration notice” which states that, unless you formally request otherwise, “disputes between you and Niantic will be resolved by binding individual arbitration, and you are waiving your right to trial by jury or to participate as a plaintiff or class member in any purported class action or representative proceeding.” In other words, you can’t sue Niantic. Most people blindly accept such terms for the apps and software they use, which means they’re bound under those conditions.

Still, you may retain the right to bring a case against Niantic—provided you opt out of this clause by sending an email to Niantic within 30 days of downloading the game. Read the Terms of Service for more information.

(3)   Know your rights if you are injured or sustain property damage as a result of the negligence of others—in this case, Pokémon Go players. While legal precedent for claims against game developers is still somewhat unsettled, there is clear precedent for claims against others who act negligently and cause injuries or damage.

If you are the victim of an incident in which Pokémon Go was involved, you need to seek immediate legal advice. An experienced attorney can evaluate your case and determine whether you may be entitled to compensation as a result of your injuries and/or damages. Injuries sustained as a result of something as seemingly innocent as an augmented reality video game can have serious, life-altering consequences. They can result in thousands of dollars in medical costs, rehabilitative costs, lost wages and other damages. In addition, you may not be able to return to your job because of your injuries—or even find other employment.

No Cost Evaluation

If you, a family member or a friend has been involved in an accident or incident involving Pokémon Go, you need to seek immediate legal advice. At Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A., our personal injury attorneys may be able to help you pursue compensation for the pain and suffering that you have been forced to endure. The experienced personal injury lawyers of NRS have handled a variety of personal injury cases over many years; we fight side by side with victims to make sure they and they families receive compensation for negligence that caused them to be hurt.

In the event you or a loved one have been involved in an accident or incident involving Pokémon Go, contact the Ohio personal injury attorneys at NRS Injury Law by filling out our No-Risk Consultation form, or call (855) GOT-HURT and speak with one of our trained staff members.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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