Pokémon Go Players Injured in Course of Game
The augmented reality game Pokémon Go has taken the country by storm since its release in July of this year. The game, played by chasing down characters in the wild and “capturing” them, has resulted in getting lots of video-gaming millennials off the couch and out of the house. However, it has also resulted in dangerous distracted behavior, and multiple serious accidents. Whether or not the game’s creators can be held liable for these injuries is up for debate.
Numerous Pokémon players across the country have been injured while in the midst of a Pokéhunt. Two young men fell over 50 feet down the face of a cliff in San Diego while attempting to catch Pokémon. A young girl in Pennsylvania crossed a busy highway and was hit by a car while playing the game. One teenaged player in Texas wandered into dangerous territory while chasing Pokémon characters and was bitten by a snake.
Taking distracted driving to a whole new level, law enforcement across the country report that drivers have been playing Pokémon Go while behind the wheel, and in doing so, ending up in serious auto accidents. Crashes by Pokémon players have been reported in Wisconsin, Maryland, and even close to home in Auburn, New York. A 28-year-old man was playing Pokémon while driving and inadvertently steered his car off the road, crashing into a tree. While the accident resulted in substantial damage to the car, no one was seriously hurt in the collision.
Business owners can purchase Pokémon “lures” that attract the game’s characters (and, hopefully, potential customers who are playing the game) to their businesses. Other businesses and public places have been designated as Pokémon gyms and Pokéstops by the game’s developers without their knowledge or consent. While attempting to collect the characters and tokens of game play available there, some players have wandered into private employee-only areas, or put themselves in harm’s way. One fire station was required to post signs instructing players not to loiter in the way of engines responding to emergencies, and another player nearly walked into a grain elevator while chasing Pokémon.
When players open the Pokémon Go app, they are greeted by a warning to remain aware of their surroundings while playing. Additionally, players must agree to certain terms and conditions when first downloading the game. These terms include an acknowledgement of the risk of injury while playing, and an agreement not to hold the game’s creators financially liable for any injuries. New York follows a fairly rigid interpretation of the Assumption of the Risk doctrine, dictating that, if an individual has been warned that they are taking a risk by participating in an activity, they cannot later sue based on their injuries from that risky activity. However, such incidents may result in liability for business owners who invite game players onto their property by placing lures or otherwise incentivizing visits from Pokémon players. Additionally, property owners who are themselves sued after a player is injured on their property may have a claim against the Pokémon Go creators if they did not consent to being designated as a landmark in the game or otherwise invite Pokémon players onto their property. Most importantly, Pokémon Go players must take care to remain aware of their surroundings while playing the game, and, for the sake of their own safety as well as those with whom they share the road, should never Pokémon and drive.
If you’ve been injured in an accident in New York, get help making a claim for money damages against the negligent party responsible for your injuries and contact the Hudson Valley personal injury attorneys at Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello for a consultation on your case, at 845-236-4411 (Marlboro), or 845-331-4100 (Kingston).