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Pikachu and Personal Injury: Legal Implications of Pokémon Go Related Incidents

In the quest to "Catch 'em all," millions of users have downloaded the popular app created by gaming company Niantic, Inc.. Although tracking the exact number of downloads is difficult, CNN reported in an article that within the first week of being available, Pokémon Go shattered the current record for downloaded games on the Apple Store and reached the top free app spot in the Google Play store.

Pokémon Go To Court

With Pokémania on the rise, not all of the stories to come out of this new craze are positive. Take, for example, the case of two Pokémon Go players being arrested at the Toledo Zoo. The Blade reported that the couple were arraigned for trespassing after they climbed a fence to pursue Pokémon in the zoo, after hours. The Connecticut Law Tribune recently featured an article entitled Pokémon Go: Legal Considerations, Including Personal Injury Concerns. The article addressed the current uncertainty surrounding premises liability for property owners for injuries sustained by Pokémon Go players. The "terms of use policy," is meant to shift liability away from the developers, yet suits over the popular app are already popping up across the country.

Pokémon and Personal Injury

Two very important questions remain: 1) What happens if I am injured while playing Pokémon Go? 2) What happens if I am injured by someone else while they are playing Pokémon Go? Although the questions are related, the answers may differ. Currently there are very few lawsuits, but this may change. USA Today reported on an accident in which the driver crashed his vehicle into a tree while attempting to drive and play Pokémon Go. Just a few days later, USA Today covered another Pokémon Go related incident in which a distracted driver slammed into a Baltimore Police car.

As to the first incident, a user will likely be held responsible for his own injuries. If a player becomes distracted and injures himself while playing, he or she should not expect to be able to recover from Niantic or Nintendo, especially after agreeing to their extensive terms of use policy.

Liability for Distracted Driving

If you are injured by someone playing the game, that will likely result in a different outcome. Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith equates it to texting and driving. The Department of Transportation's Distracted Driving Fact Sheet states "no person shall operate a motor vehicle on any highway while using a hand held mobile telephone to engage in a call or while using a mobile electronic device while such vehicle is in motion." The violation of a criminal law constitutes "negligence per se" and establishes civil liability and responsibility to pay for any damages caused by the wrongdoer.

Connecticut is a comparative negligence jurisdiction, which means both parties may be partially at fault. For example, in an automobile accident, even if you stop abruptly, the person chasing the pikachu in the truck behind you at 40mph could still be liable for most of your damages. Whether or not Niantic Inc. and Nintendo Co. will be held civilly responsible for a user's unsafe behavior is yet to be tested.

Call a Licensed Attorney

Every case is different. Whether it is a "charmander" at a crosswalk or a "squirtle" in the street, you are still protected by the laws of Connecticut. Although someone may not have seen you while they pedaled their bike to the nearest "jigglypuff," that does not mean they are not responsible if they hit you. If you or a loved one have been injured in a Pokémon Go related incident, you should contact the attorneys at Mariani Reck Lane, LLC. Their experience in personal injury law can help determine what your next step should be. Call us today at 860-443-5023.

In the quest to "Catch 'em all," millions of users have downloaded the popular app created by gaming company Niantic, Inc.. Although tracking the exact number of downloads is difficult, CNN reported in an article that within the first week of being available, Pokémon Go shattered the current record for downloaded games on the Apple Store and reached the top free app spot in the Google Play store.

Pokémon Go To Court

With Pokémania on the rise, not all of the stories to come out of this new craze are positive. Take, for example, the case of two Pokémon Go players being arrested at the Toledo Zoo. The Blade reported that the couple were arraigned for trespassing after they climbed a fence to pursue Pokémon in the zoo, after hours. The Connecticut Law Tribune recently featured an article entitled Pokémon Go: Legal Considerations, Including Personal Injury Concerns. The article addressed the current uncertainty surrounding premises liability for property owners for injuries sustained by Pokémon Go players. The "terms of use policy," is meant to shift liability away from the developers, yet suits over the popular app are already popping up across the country.

Pokémon and Personal Injury

Two very important questions remain: 1) What happens if I am injured while playing Pokémon Go? 2) What happens if I am injured by someone else while they are playing Pokémon Go? Although the questions are related, the answers may differ. Currently there are very few lawsuits, but this may change. USA Today reported on an accident in which the driver crashed his vehicle into a tree while attempting to drive and play Pokémon Go. Just a few days later, USA Today covered another Pokémon Go related incident in which a distracted driver slammed into a Baltimore Police car.

As to the first incident, a user will likely be held responsible for his own injuries. If a player becomes distracted and injures himself while playing, he or she should not expect to be able to recover from Niantic or Nintendo, especially after agreeing to their extensive terms of use policy.

Liability for Distracted Driving

If you are injured by someone playing the game, that will likely result in a different outcome. Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith equates it to texting and driving. The Department of Transportation's Distracted Driving Fact Sheet states "no person shall operate a motor vehicle on any highway while using a hand held mobile telephone to engage in a call or while using a mobile electronic device while such vehicle is in motion." The violation of a criminal law constitutes "negligence per se" and establishes civil liability and responsibility to pay for any damages caused by the wrongdoer.

Connecticut is a comparative negligence jurisdiction, which means both parties may be partially at fault. For example, in an automobile accident, even if you stop abruptly, the person chasing the pikachu in the truck behind you at 40mph could still be liable for most of your damages. Whether or not Niantic Inc. and Nintendo Co. will be held civilly responsible for a user's unsafe behavior is yet to be tested.

Call a Licensed Attorney

Every case is different. Whether it is a "charmander" at a crosswalk or a "squirtle" in the street, you are still protected by the laws of Connecticut. Although someone may not have seen you while they pedaled their bike to the nearest "jigglypuff," that does not mean they are not responsible if they hit you. If you or a loved one have been injured in a Pokémon Go related incident, you should contact the attorneys at Mariani Reck Lane, LLC. Their experience in personal injury law can help determine what your next step should be. Call us today at 860-443-5023.

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