Pokémon Go, has taken Americans — children, teens, and adults — by storm in the last few months. The game, created by app development company Niantic, Inc, is a virtual interactive game that overlays fictional Pokémon characters on real, local surroundings. Using a smart phone and the free app, players can search for Pokémon characters throughout local areas, including places of public interest. It’s similar to a digital scavenger hunt taking place locally.
While many Pokémon Go users play responsibly, some don’t. Obsessed Pokémon Go fans play the game with such intensity that they have started causing hazards for themselves as well as for others. For example, in Texas, a Pokémon Go player suddenly stopped his car, jumped out and ran to pursue a Pokémon character. He left his car illegally parked and another driver accidentally hit the parked car.
In New York, a driver caused a vehicle crash because he was distracted by playing the game while driving. In Pennsylvania, a 15-year-old playing was so focused on the game that she continued to play as she crossed a highway with oncoming traffic. She was injured after being struck by a car. In both Maryland and New York, armed robbers successfully targeted distracted Pokémon Go players.
Another concern facing players is trespassing. Without permission, homeowners could assume the players are home invaders. In these situations, it is not uncommon for homeowners to pull out a weapon with the intention of defending themselves and their property from what appears to be intruders.
Other legal issues may focus on players disrupting the use of public spaces. In Washington, D.C., museum-goers were disenchanted with the large numbers of Pokémon Go players hanging out in front of the Holocaust Museum. Large gatherings like this can raise nuisance claims.
Violation of Privacy
Another legal claim that may soon come into play is violation of privacy. When using a smart phone to play the game, the camera and the GPS are used, potentially creating an environment where the personal privacy of bystanders is compromised.
Another legal issue with Pokémon Go is the risk of property damage as a result of trespassing on private property or in public areas.
Although Pokémon Go players view the liability disclaimer that appears before playing the game, players and the company are at risk of potential lawsuits covering a wide range of claims.
How to Protect Yourself
You may be one of the millions who loves playing Pokémon Go, and that’s fine — as long as you play responsibly and safely. In order to enjoy the game and stay protected, follow these suggestions:
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of a Pokemon Go player or from the negligent use of other web-based applications, Goldman and Daszkal, P.A. may be able to help. Contact us at (954) 428-9333 or www.goldmandaszkal.com.
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