Pokémon Go launched 22 days ago and has already been downloaded by more than 50 million users around the world. But since its launch, there has been an alarming trend of injuries of distracted users, and many believe a personal injury lawsuit against Nintendo, the company behind the game, is inevitable.
The smartphone-based game was built on the 90's video that allowed players to collect fictional creatures called Pokémon and battle other players' Pokémon creatures. The game spawned a TV series, a trading card game, comic books, and now the Pokémon Go app.
The smartphone app taps into the player's geolocation services to create an “augmented reality” that allows players to “see” Pokémon characters in the world around them. Players follow maps of their communities to discover the location of Pokémon or “gyms”, locations where players train and battle Pokémon.
For many players, the game has proved so fun that they loose awareness of the reality around them. The app has generated a seemingly endless list of accidents involving its players.
There is a wide range of accidents reported, but most of them have a common thread: the player is so focused on staring at a cell phone screen that she misses an obstacle in the world around her. Players have been involved in accidents while driving down the highway, they have been injury running into obstacles right in front of them, walked into oncoming traffic, and fallen off cliffs.
There have been reports of lured robberies where players were lured to certain locations to chase a Pokémon, only to discover that others were waiting for them.
As the game has spread across the world, the dangers have changed. Bosnian officials were forced to warn players about leftover land mines from the 1990s conflict in the region.
But can Nintendo be held responsible for the injuries?
Most users don't think twice before agreeing to the Terms of Agreement before playing the game, but they don't realize they are essentially signing away their right to sue the company. But the website The Ringer reports that players who read the Agreement know that they have the option to opt out of the clause if they send an e-mail to Niantic—the game's developer—within 30 days of downloading the game.
The Terms of Agreement specifically states:
ARBITRATION NOTICE: EXCEPT IF YOU OPT OUT AND EXCEPT FOR CERTAIN TYPES OF DISPUTES DESCRIBED IN THE “AGREEMENT TO ARBITRATE” SECTION BELOW, YOU AGREE THAT DISPUTES BETWEEN YOU AND NIANTIC WILL BE RESOLVED BY BINDING, INDIVIDUAL ARBITRATION, AND YOU ARE WAIVING YOUR RIGHT TO A TRIAL BY JURY OR TO PARTICIPATE AS A PLAINTIFF OR CLASS MEMBER IN ANY PURPORTED CLASS ACTION OR REPRESENTATIVE PROCEEDING.
You can read the full Terms of Agreement here.
But no language can totally protect the companies from lawsuits. The presence of that language alone is enough to alert players that the company is worried that injury lawsuits are imminent.
Tennessee Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of Pokémon Go, you may be eligible for compensation. Call our offices today at (615) 244-4511 to schedule a free consultation.