What happens if you’re in an accident and the other driver was playing Pokémon Go?
In case you haven’t heard, Pokémon Go is an augmented-reality smartphone game in which you explore real-life locations in an attempt to catch imaginary creatures called Pokémon. The app uses your smartphone’s GPS signal to lead you to different locations within the game.
As millions of people take to the streets, some while driving vehicles, with their eyes on their phone instead of the road, critics say that the game poses a public safety risk. There have even been auto accidents as a result of people playing Pokémon Go.
On July 11, a Texas A&M Police Department released a statement via Twitter regarding a driver who caused an accident by illegally stopping his car in the middle of the road to catch a Pokémon.
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 also issued a warning in response to reports of drivers distracted while playing Pokémon Go:
The idea that people might be driving while playing Pokémon Go may seem ridiculous at first, but when you consider that in 2014, over 400,000 people were injured because of drivers distracted by using their cell phones, it seems pretty likely.
There is also concern about pedestrians walking around immersed in the game. Folks worry that pedestrians may end up walking directly into traffic without noticing. In Crewe Virginia, the Crewe Virginia Police Department has been concerned with distracted pedestrians crossing streets. They issued the following warning on July 10:
Another Police Department in O’Fallon Missouri issued a statement about several robberies that were reported to have been caused by Pokémon Go. Police say that the criminals were placing Pokémon “Lures” to attract potential victims to different locations late in the evening and then robbing them at gunpoint when they arrive. The O’Fallon Police Department put out the following statement:
In a separate incident, another Pokémon Go player was surprised upon discovering a dead body while playing. In yet another incident, an Uber driver named Alex Ramirez was discovered to be live-streaming video of himself playing Pokémon Go while driving for Uber. Ramirez got temporarily suspended when Uber received numerous complaints from his viewers regarding his distracted driving
Here at Elrod Pope Law Firm, we know people are never going to stop playing games on their phones. But everyone still has a responsibility to act safely and carefully, and that means putting the phone down while you’re driving. If you’ve been injured by someone who wasn’t following this simple rule, contact us today for a free consultation about your right to compensation.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.