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Should Pokémon Go Be Held Liable for the Accidents or Injuries It Causes?

Pokémon Go is causing car accidents across the U.S.

Somehow that’s not a surprise.

If you aren’t familiar with Pokémon Go, it’s a free-to-play mobile app/game that was developed by Niantic, Inc. in partnership with The Pokémon Company and Nintendo for iOS and Android phones, and released on July 6, 2016. The game utilizes the camera and GPS of a compatible device to allow a player to capture, battle, and train fictional creatures called Pokémon. In under a month, over 20 million people across the country have downloaded the game and are out and about trying to “catch ‘em all” while walking, running, and, unfortunately, while driving.

While the app warns users to “Remember to be alert at all times” and “Stay aware of your surroundings” as they play, there has already been a multitude of instances where it has caused those walking or driving to be involved in accidents. In fact, a little over a week after the app was released, a 15-year-old Pennsylvania teen playing the game walked across a major highway at 5:00 PM and was hit by a car as she tried to make her way back home. In New York, a driver playing the game drove off the road and crashed into a tree. The girl injured her collarbone and suffered other injuries, and the driver totaled his car but was lucky to get away with minor injuries.

With Pokémon Go causing accidents like this in just a few weeks after its release, it raises the question: Should Pokémon Go be held liable for the accidents or injuries it causes?  Better yet, should it be held liable for accidents caused (1) by its users; or (2) to its users?

While the victims and their loved ones will undoubtedly say yes, it’s difficult to tell whether the app’s creators will be liable for any injuries or accidents in the future. Niantic, Inc. actually does an “okay” job of presenting disclaimers and warnings in the “Pokémon Go Terms of Service,” so it’s clear they’ve thought accidents might happen.

There is no denying that just like texting and driving, Pokémon Go and driving is becoming a big issue. However, whether or not the company behind this innovative app can truly be held liable for the injuries, or if there will be penalties for those who drive and play and cause serious car accidents, has yet to be seen. Whatever the case, if you have to “catch ‘em all,” make sure that you do it carefully and safely, and “Remember to be alert at all times” and “Stay aware of your surroundings” as the app suggests.

The attorneys at the law firm of Kalikhman & Rayz, LLC serve as personal injury attorneys in Bucks County, defense lawyers in Bucks County, and provide these legal services and others throughout Montgomery County and Philadelphia, PA. Whether an accident was caused by Pokémon Go or not, the firm encourages all victims and/or their loved ones to reach out to them for a free consultation.