1Last month, hundreds of creatures invaded Forest City. As a result, thousands of residents have been taking to the streets, attempting to “catch ‘em all.”

If you haven’t noticed these tiny creatures roaming around your neighbourhood, it’s probably because you are not playing the most popular augmented-reality game right now – Pokémon Go.

If you aren’t playing the game, chances are you’ve at least heard of it. The downloadable gaming app became available to users in Canada in mid-July, and millions of people have downloaded the game and have started their hunt for the digital creatures.

Aside from being the latest gaming craze, Pokémon Go is both entertaining and a great way to stimulate exercise for the generations born into, and living in, the digital age.

Some health experts are praising the new interactive mobile game, saying it is making users more physically active. In a lot of cases this is true. Users are hiking up hills and trekking across city blocks trying to find designated gyms, “poké stops” and the best Pokémon they can catch.

But aside from boosting physical exercise among the game’s young demographic, Pokémon Go has also been described as a huge distraction. Since the game’s launch, hundreds of reports claim that Pokémon Go users have suffered multiple injuries as a result of playing the game.

While users are out searching for Pokémon, it’s commonly been noted that they are often unaware of their surroundings because their eyes are glued to their screens. Not only is this causing players to trespass on private property, but it is also leading some users to be involved in dangerous situations such as vehicle-pedestrian collisions.

With the game only becoming more and more popular, pedestrians and motorists alike have an increased risk of becoming injured due to distracted gamers forgetting to exercise care and caution around roads and sidewalks. This, in turn, will become relevant to personal injury law, as lawyers and clients will want to prove fault and negligence in injury cases involving the game.

Fault and/or Negligence

When it comes to accidents involving Pokemon Go, cases will likely come down to fault or negligence on the part of the defendant. If a driver is distracted by playing Pokemon Go while operating their vehicle, and they drive into say, a parked police cruiser – like a Montreal man did last month – that individual would be considered negligent and be liable for injuries and damages

Contributory Negligence

Another common result that can be decided in a personal injury case is contributory negligence. Contributory negligence means that both parties are at fault, which can result in a split of liability.

Think of it like this, a pedestrian waits patiently at a cross walk to cross the road. When the light turns green and the walking symbol appears, the pedestrian crosses. If that pedestrian is hit by a car that has gone through a red light, the driver is likely going to be solely to blame. This means the driver is considered to have been negligent and is at fault for the accident and injuries.

But now consider this scenario. A pedestrian too eagerly steps onto a roadway in order to catch a Pikachu or a Magnemite, and is struck by a car. In this case, both the pedestrian and the driver could be considered at fault, leading to contributory negligence on both parties.

In this case, the plaintiff seeking damages for an injury would have their rewards reduced.

With cases like this springing up across Canada and the U.S., police officers and city authorities are asking Pokémon Go users and non-users alike to be cautious and vigilant.

Police in Edmonton tweeted out a message to game users last month asking them to “not look for #Pokemon while driving” and adding, “If you’ve gotta catch ‘em all, do so safely. #DontCatchAndDrive.”

Police departments in Vancouver and Winnipeg, and even the RCMP have taken to social media to communicate similar messages and urge users to play responsibly.

While Pokémon Go is the new and latest distraction that is leading some players to put themselves in dangerous situations, it certainly isn’t much different from the distraction of texting and driving or even texting and walking, where individuals are also distracted by their mobile devices. The take away message from this rise in Pokémon Go-related injuries should be that all mobile users, – whether playing the game or not, – should exercise common sense and caution when walking and driving along roadways and streets, as well as populated and public areas.

If you or someone you know has been injured by the negligence of another individual, contact our personal injury lawyers today by phone at 1-855-744-9228, by email at personalinjurygroup@harrisonpensa.com or live chat with one of our representatives at www.harrisonpensapersonalinjury.com.

A word from our clients

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"My wife was involved in a very serious motor vehicle collision several years ago, and luckily she survived, but unfortunately she suffered some injuries."
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January 8, 2016

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HARRISON PENSA ™ is a full-service law firm representing private & business interests throughout southwestern Ontario.

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