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“Pokémon Go”—Digital Creatures and Real Car Accidents

In July 2016 alone, “Pokémon Go” earned over 200 million dollars in revenue via the iTunes and Google Play Stores. Although the app was released with a warning for users to be aware of their surroundings, in the first few weeks after its release, players have been involved in a number of incidents resulting from being too focused on the game:

  • Walked off a cliff
  • Wandered into a nuclear power plant
  • Played the app during a US State Department terror briefing
  • Apprehended by US border guards
  • Walked onto a freeway and got hit by a car
  • Crashed their car into a tree, a school, a police car, and more
  • Caused a crash by stopping in the center of a highway
  • Abandoned their cars in the middle of Manhattan streets

“Pokémon Go” gives a new meaning to the word craze. Driving while playing has gotten so out of hand that Niantic, the game’s developer, added a click-through screen that forces users to attest that they are a passenger (and therefore not operating a motor vehicle) if the app determines they are traveling at a speed only attainable in a motor vehicle. US highway agents have already posted signs and put out public service announcements across the country with a warning for drivers: “Don’t Pokémon and Drive.”


What Is “Pokémon Go”?

“Pokémon Go” is an augmented reality game for mobile devices that uses the gadget’s GPS feature to make it appear as if the game’s cartoon creatures are in the environment around the user on a digital map. If the player allows access to the device’s camera, the Pokémon creatures are projected onto the real world in front of them on the phone’s screen. Users can toss Poké Balls and capture characters, join gyms and teams with other players, hatch Pokémon eggs, and evolve characters among other things.


Why Play While Driving?

Some features require that the user walk a certain number of kilometers, and people undoubtedly want to rush the process. Others simply want to cover as much ground as possible in their hunt for their favorite Pokémon or the in-game locations.

As with many negligent actions, those who play while behind the wheel either don’t think about how rash their actions are or possibly tell themselves they’ll be different and be careful. Either way, they are acting recklessly and breaking the law. They are responsible for their actions, so if they cause harm, they are liable for the ensuing damages, making a financial reward for the victim possible.


New York Law and Distracted Driving

One of the New York cases of “Pokémon Go” distracted driving was an ex-marine who drove into a tree in Auburn and survived. The passenger seat of his vehicle was completely smashed in, providing a haunting reminder that these irresponsible drivers could kill their friends and family as well as innocent strangers. There have been other cases in New York City, such as the player who wandered into Prospect Park Lake and the Central Park traffic tie up.

In New York State, drivers are prohibited from using a cell phone or tablet while driving under most circumstances. These violations can increase drivers’ insurance rates and result in fines. When a Pokémon hunter causes a car accident that results in an injury, personal injury law will be on the victim’s side. After such an accident, you can seek damages for personal or property damage, either via insurance settlement or litigation.


Protecting Yourself with Help from New York Car Accident Lawyers

Negligent drivers are one of the primary causes of car accidents, and distracted driving is a frequent offense in these unfortunate incidents. If someone caused you or your property harm due to a “Pokémon Go” crash, call us at 1-800-VICTIM2 (1-800-842-8462) and learn your rights. We’re Greenstein & Milbauer, and we’re here to help you get the compensation you deserve.

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