What happens you get into an accident and the other driver was playing Pokémon Go?
In case you weren’t already aware, Pokémon Go is a mobile gaming app that is rapidly gaining popularity since it’s release early July 2016. If you are unfamiliar with the game, Pokémon Go is an augmented reality smartphone game in which you catch creatures called Pokémon out in real-world locations using your smartphone’s GPS signal.
With millions of people taking to the streets, and even driving around with their eyes fixed on their smartphones, critics of the game claim that such technology poses a significant public safety risk with auto accidents and even robberies occurring as a result of people playing Pokémon Go.
On July 11, a Texas A&M Police Department released a statement via Twitter about a driver who had illegally stopped his car in the middle of the road in order to catch a Pokémon, which 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 the following warning in response to reports of drivers distracted by playing Pokémon Go:
Now, the idea that people might be driving around while simultaneously playing Pokémon Go seems ridiculous when you first hear 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, above and beyond the cost of medical bills, and pain and suffering of a normal auto accident case. These punitive damages serve to act as a deterrent to dissuade other drivers from driving while texting. 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. People are also worried that pedestrians may be walking around immersed in the game and end up walking directly into traffic without noticing.
In Crewe Virginia, the Crewe Virginia Police Department has been concerned with distracted pedestrians crossing streets while distracted by the popular smartphone app. They issued the following warning on July 10:
Another Police Department in O’Fallon Missouri issued a statement about a string a robberies that were reported to have been caused by Pokémon Go. Police say that the perpetrators were placing Pokémon “Lures” to lure distracted players to different locations late at night and then robbing them at gunpoint while they were distracted playing the game. The O’Fallon Police Department issued the following statement regarding the incidents:
Another Pokémon Go player was surprised upon discovering a dead body while playing the game.
In another case, an Uber driver named Alex Ramirez was live-streaming video of himself playing Pokémon Go while driving for Uber, and in one of his videos claimed to have witnessed a murder while playing the game. Ramirez was temporarily suspended when Uber received numerous complaints regarding his distracted driving.
Here at David Aylor Law Offices, we’d never want to stop you from playing, but we implore you to refrain from using your smartphone while driving — 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 smartphone while driving, contact us today for a free consultation about your rights to compensation and the potential for punitive damages.