Every day, new stories are appearing in the media about accidents caused by people who are not paying attention as a result of playing the latest game craze, Pokémon Go. These stories are sparking speculation that the phenomenon might result in a corresponding rise in personal injury claims.
Accidents that have already been reportedly caused by people playing the game include a car crash in Texas, where a car hit another car that had been illegally parked because the driver had abandoned it to catch a Pokémon. A second car accident, this time in New York state, took place when a driver who was distracted by the game drove his car into a tree, reports Fox News.
Game-playing motorists aren’t the only people to be suffering, however, with pedestrians also sustaining injuries because they are playing the game as they walk. A 15-year-old girl was reportedly injured while crossing a busy road, and within 30 minutes of the game’s release another player had fallen in a ditch and broken his foot.
These types of accidents are not restricted to the US, and the Herald Sun reports that in Melbourne a man had to be treated in hospital for leg injuries after falling while trying to play the game at the same time as riding his skateboard.
The game has proved to be just as popular in the UK, and a number of safety organisations have commented on the likelihood that people playing the game might make themselves more vulnerable to accidents.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has advised players to be aware of their surroundings at all times, highlighting that there is a higher risk of slip and trip accidents if people are not paying attention.
“Playing Pokémon Go shouldn’t mean letting go of your senses,” said Ross Penstone-Smith, Policy Adviser for General Insurance at the ABI. “It’s important to remember that mobile phone users should always have their wits about them, drive carefully and watch out for hazards.”
Road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, warned specifically about the risks of playing the game whilst driving.
“Pokémon GO makes you concentrate on catching characters and it takes both hand and eye coordination,” commented Samson Ruwangu, IAM RoadSmart digital content executive.
“Kids and adults alike are going crazy for this game,” he added. “But the risk is that some people are going to be playing it at the wrong time – and driving a car is the last place you should be looking for Pidgey, Rattata or the others.”
Fortunately, so far the majority of injuries reported have been relatively minor, but the risk of more serious injury is undoubtedly very real, prompting a professor at Texas Tech University School of Law to warn that “Death by Pokémon is coming”.
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