Pokemon Go is a free-to-play game released for mobile smartphones that has become one of the most popular apps around. Players look at maps on their smartphone screens to find where to go in order to capture creatures called Pokemon, and then battle other players with similar creatures. It is fun and mostly harmless, yet there have been numerous accidents reported since the game’s release. In fact, the NYPD has issued warnings to players regarding their own safety.
There are a few unique dangers presented by playing Pokemon Go. As long as these are avoided, then it is a safe, fun game to play. Perhaps the biggest danger is caused by walking down a street while staring at the screen. Players can see not only where to go but also what Pokemon are present, and capture them using the screen on their smartphones.
Not paying attention to their surroundings has caused numerous players to sprain or twist their ankles, run into trees, lamps, and other objects, and even wander into traffic. Pedestrians need to be aware of their surroundings, watching where they walk and only glancing at the screen from time to time, rather than staring down at a phone while walking. The busy streets and sidewalks of New York City can be especially dangerous for a pedestrian who is not paying attention, and liability for an accident is going to shift to someone staring a phone instead of watching where he or she is going.
Some drivers have also been caught playing Pokemon Go instead of watching where they are driving. This has resulted in accidents all across the country. These types of accidents are especially dangerous for pedestrians, since New York vehicle-pedestrian accidents are more likely to result in serious injury or fatality for the unprotected walker. Pedestrians should always be aware of cars around them, and be especially cautious of drivers who seem distracted.
Perhaps the most worrisome danger for pedestrians playing Pokemon Go have been instances where a player was accosted by one or more people. Pokemon Go is designed so that players at higher levels are more likely to meet up at certain locations and challenge each other within the game. Some criminals have been using this to lure unsuspecting players to them and then rob the player.
In some instances there has been violence and even shootings involved in these attacks. Be careful whenever approaching an unusual area, especially at night, and go with a friend whenever possible. While Pokemon Go is a fun and generally safe game to play, there are some risks involved, so call Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, at (212) 986-7353 if you have been injured or attacked while playing.