As if everyone needed something more to be distracted by, Pokemon, a nineties phenom, has resurrected from the dead to cause death and injury across the US and beyond. The new Pokemon Go! App is seeing a rash in not only crime but personal injury cases around the globe. But, who is to blame for the personal injury incidents? It isn’t as if anyone is tying people up and forcing them to make bad choices while being distracted by a kid’s game.
Pokemon Go! is literally a world phenomenon. Being introduced in over 30 countries in just the past few weeks, it is catching on like a virus, and hurting just as many people as the Zika scare. The games launch has come with backlash such as having people stopping on graves or being distracted when they should be paying homage, like when visiting the Holocaust museum. It is also causing security issues, making people’s entire Google accounts accessible by developers and containing all sorts of glitches that allow people to manipulate the game.
Perhaps one of the worst things that the app is doing is making people distracted while walking, driving, or just sitting down. Being unaware of their surroundings, game players are not watching where they are going and running into things, crashing cars and walking out into traffic all in search of Bulbasaur or some other fictional character that doesn’t exist.
Never before has a game immersed players to the point where they forget that there are no such thing as Pokemon characters and that they are living in the real world where things are going on all around them. Having app players climbing on things, going places they shouldn’t, or entering unsafe zones, are all part of the Pokemon Go! “fun” game.
Most lawyers and an injury attorney Los Angeles, know that it is just a matter of time before litigation begins to fly against the makers of Pokemon Go! Currently, there have been reports of injury incidents in New York, Pennsylvania and California related to people playing the game on their mobile device instead of doing what they are supposed to be doing, paying attention to the world around them.
Not the first app to distract people and lead to accidents, litigators are wondering exactly when people will begin to sue due to their injuries and who they will go after. With companies across the board developing virtual reality games and apps that immerse people, it is a matter of time before someone claims foul and takes them to court.
Pokemon Go! Creators use two various streams of blockades to liability. The first is a huge “warning” screen to caution people about getting too into the game and negating being aware of what is around them. When opening the app, there is a cautionary pop-up that warns players to remember to stay aware of surroundings. Appeasing at best, it does nothing to make anyone really pay attention.
Since the first set of warnings appear to be glossed over, they added an additional pop-up to the app, so that to play, the person must click “ok” or they aren’t able to play the game. The problem is that the general public is so accustomed to ignoring things like pop up adds, likely, they aren’t even reading them just pressing buttons to get to the game.
Even if the creators are taken to court, there is a defense called the assumption of risk that they could use to defend themselves against the hazards that people knowingly subject themselves to. All they have a to do is prove in court that the player of the game either had to see, or assume, that they were putting themselves in danger, which is not difficult at all. That defense, however, may only hold up in specific states leaving them liable in others. It is likely that someone could argue that they had no idea that they could be in danger from playing an app on a phone. It may be reasonable that danger couldn’t have been foreseen from a game on a mobile device.
The other set of liability blocks that the game’s creators has added is the set of terms and conditions that everyone must agree to, to play. Although, just like all the other warnings, they will do little to absolve programmers of guilt if someone ends up getting hurt due to a poor design of the game or unscrupulous hacking or use of it.
Pokemon Go! is capturing the attention of an entirely new generation and commanding it from the old that used to be immersed decades ago. The first time around it was nothing more than a deck of cards, no harm there. This time, playing Pokemon may be hazardous to your health.