What should you do in the event of an accident where the other driver was playing Pokémon Go?
In case you weren’t already aware, Pokémon Go is an app that is quickly gaining popularity since it’s release early July 2016. If you aren’t familiar with it yet, Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game in which you catch creatures called Pokémon out in real-world locations while it tracks your location using your mobile phone’s GPS signal.
With literally millions of people taking to the streets — some even driving around with eyes fixed attentively on their smartphone screens instead of the road, critics of the game claim that Pokémon Go poses a public safety risk with auto accidents and even robberies occurring as a result of people playing the game.
On July 11, a Texas A&M Police Department sent out a tweet about a driver who had illegally stopped his car in the middle of the road in order to catch a Pokémon, which, in turn, caused an accident.
7/11-Traffic accident: Illegally parked car struck from behind (*Airbags deployed in 2nd car). 1st driver had exited to catch a Pokémon.
— Texas A&M Police (@TAMUPolice) July 13, 2016
The Tennessee Highway Safety Office issued a strong warning in response to numerous reports of drivers distracted by playing Pokémon Go:
Now, the idea that people might be driving around while simultaneously playing Pokémon Go may seem ridiculous when you first first hear about it, but consider that in 2014, over 400,000 people were injured because of drivers distracted by using their cell phones.
In texting-and-driving cases, the plaintiff is sometimes awarded punitive damages, in addition to the price of medical bills, and pain and suffering of a normal car wreck case. These additional damages are intended to act as a deterrent to discourage other drivers from engaging in the same behavior that caused the wreck. In the case of someone playing Pokémon Go, it can be safe to assume that courts will treat these cases similar to texting-and-driving claims, though it’s too early to tell, as the first cases have not yet gone to court.
The safety concerns don’t stop with drivers. Folks are also worried pedestrians may be walking around distracted by the game and wandering directly into traffic without noticing.
In Crewe Virginia, the Police Department has received reports from people concerned with distracted pedestrians crossing streets while distracted by Pokémon Go. They issued the following warning on July 10:
A Police Department in Missouri posted on Facebook about several Pokémon Go players being robbed in their town. Police say that the robbers were dropping “Lures” to bring distracted players to different locations late at night and then robbing them upon arrival. They issued the following statement regarding these incidents:
Recently, a Pokémon Go player discovered a dead body while playing.
Just last week, an Uber driver and YouTuber named Alex Ramirez was streaming a video of himself playing the game while driving for Uber, and was temporarily suspended when Uber received numerous complaints from viewers of the stream.
Here at David R. Price Jr. P.A., we’d never want to stop you from playing whatever game you wish, but we ask you to please not use your smartphone while driving — no text message or game is worth causing an accident. It can wait until you’ve parked in a safe, legal location.
If you’ve been injured in an accident by someone who was using their cell phone while driving, contact us today for a free consultation about your rights to compensation and the potential for punitive damages.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.