Pokémon Go has swept the country and the world in the past month, with millions of users downloading the app. The game has gotten particular attention because it’s the first widely successful use of a technology known as augmented reality. This allows users to be inside a game while viewing the real outside world. Though visually interesting, some have raised questions about whether the app might be to blame for causing injuries to users. Given recent reports of harm to players, legal experts say it’s all but inevitable that personal injury claims will result. To learn more about such potential claims, keep reading.
First, there have been reports in recent weeks of a multitude of injuries occurring to players of Pokémon Go. News reports indicate that serious accidents occurred in California, New York and Pennsylvania to name a few. People have been injured walking into traffic, walking off cliffs and entering buildings or places they shouldn’t have been in. These injuries are precisely what could cause users to sue Niantic Inc., the developer and publisher of Pokémon Go.
So what has Niantic done to reduce its potential liability? For starters, anyone who has ever played the game knows that it begins with a big warning screen. Users must click “OK” before they are even allowed to play the game. The opening screen warns players to be alert and aware of their surroundings at all times. Niantic has since begun periodically pushing pop-up messages with similar warnings. These kinds of warning messages are important when a company is afraid of lawsuits related to injuries that were reasonably foreseeable. In this case, it’s arguably reasonably foreseeable that a person could get hurt playing an augmented reality game that requires them to stare at their phone while walking around outside.
The second thing Niantic has done to mitigate its legal risk is to create extensive terms and conditions that must be agreed to before ever opening the app. These terms and conditions warn users about potential harms and waive all liability for Niantic. The question is whether a court would deem these terms and conditions enforceable. That will likely depend on whether users were deemed to have had notice of the rules and genuinely accepted them. The fact that the terms were made available to all users and that users then accepted them is certainly good for Niantic and may make legal challenges more difficult.
Another point that may be raised is assumption of risk. Niantic would likely respond to a personal injury claim by arguing that the user knew that a risk was involved in playing the game but chose to do so anyway. Though this can be a good defense in some states, it isn’t so great in others. For instance, places like California and Florida have different rules regarding comparative fault, which may reduce verdicts based on assumption of risk, but not totally eliminate liability for the defendant.
If you have been injured in a Mississippi accident and think you may have a personal injury claim, please contact the Mississippi personal injury attorneys at Kobs & Philley at (601) 856-7800.