The recent launch of Pokémon Go in Canada in July of this year has caused a lot of excitement. You may have noticed a lot more pedestrians around downtown cores, and even possibly suburban areas. Pokémon Go is a mobile app available on most phones that requires players to roam around looking for and attempting to capture Pokémon characters. The game uses a virtual map with real locations where Pokémon can be found. Once players arrive at these locations, Pokémon can be captured by aiming their mobile device and using the touch screen to throw a Pokéball at the creatures that appear in augmented reality. The game creates an index of captured Pokémon and allows players to advance in levels, which grants access to different types of Pokémon and more powerful items within the game.
The game might seem fun until the legal risks surrounding it arise. Some Pokémon Go players have been found wandering onto private property leading to trespassing charges, others have been found crossing borders without realizing and even being run over by vehicles.
When first installing the app on your phone, you are required to consent to the terms and conditions of the game, which conclude abiding with all applicable laws and legal obligations during play. Furthermore, when launching the app, the loading screen reminds you to pay attention to your surroundings and to be alert at all times. Although these disclaimers exist, it will be interesting to see whether this waiver is sustained if the number of related accidents increase or if someone is seriously injured as a result of the game. Especially when the individual playing the game could be a minor incapable of entering into a legal agreement.
Given the nature of the game, distraction becomes a large issue. Since the launch of Pokémon Go, we are seeing a significant increase in distracted pedestrians which ultimately leads to an increase of accidents. As a result of incidents related to Pokémon Go, some cities have called for new legislation to address distracted walking, for example Toronto where in early July, city council voted 26-15 to ask the province to amend the Highway Traffic Act to prohibit “actively using a hand-held wireless communication device or hand-held electronic entertainment device while on any travelled portion of a roadway”. Although legislation hasn’t been changed thus far, we encourage pedestrians to be safe while playing Pokémon Go and in general while wandering, all while enjoying the game and embracing the opportunity to reconnect with the community.
If you have been in an accident with a distracted pedestrian or motorist, we encourage you to contact one of our personal injury lawyers to discuss your situation. We offer a free initial consultation for personal injury matters. Contact our office to arrange an appointment as soon as possible after your injury has occurred.
Blog post written by Brianna Mayes, summer law student.