Have you started playing Pokemon Go yet?
The new smartphone app has quickly taken the country by storm. It is estimated that over 9 million Americans are playing the game every day.
Based off of the popular trading card game and television show from the early 2000s, Pokemon Go uses GPS mapping technologies to lead you around your town or city to catch Pokemon and visit different Pokestops. As evidenced by the 9+ million users, it’s become an instant hit with smartphone users of all ages.
It’s not hard to see how this game would be both addictive and very, very distracting. Users might not want to put down their phone when a Pikachu or other rare Pokemon could pop onto their screens at any time. If smartphone users weren’t glued to their screens while walking through town or commuting to work before, they sure are now.
When you’re driving or walking around busy roads, however, it’s time to take a break from Pokemon Go. Though the game has only been around for a few weeks, it has already caused the following incidents:
- A 15-year old girl in the suburbs of Pittsburgh was playing Pokemon go when she stepped out onto a highway and was hit by a car.
- A driver in Auburn, N.Y. hit a tree while playing Pokemon Go and broke his ankle.
- A car in Baltimore hit a police vehicle while the driver was playing Pokemon Go. (Luckily, no one was injured, but the driver was rather embarrassed.)
Stories like these have made national news, and state and local law enforcement have begun to urge citizens to put down the app while driving or walking near roads. Ride sharing apps have begun to offer incentives to Pokemon Go hunters, urging them not to drive while they go out Pokemon hunting. It’s no secret that the mobile app is quickly replacing texting as the most common, and most dangerous, form of distracted driving.
Distracted Driving Laws in Florida
Distracted driving has become a hot topic in auto safety recently with the rising rates of texting and driving (and the rising rates of fatal distracted driving accidents.) Distracted driving is any form of activity that diverts your attention away from the road: eating, talking to other passengers, and using a cell phone are all forms of distracted driving. Accidents caused by distracted driving result in an average of 8 deaths and over 1,000 injuries a day.
There are no legal penalties for playing Pokemon Go and driving. The recent legislation in Florida that has made texting and driving a traffic violation only applies to sending and receiving messages, not hunting for Pokemon. However, if you play Pokemon Go and get in an accident, you may have to pay for injuries.
How Pokemon Go Might Cost Thousands
Florida is a “no-fault” auto accident state. This means you have to carry personal injury protection (PIP). In the case of an auto accident, your insurance will cover your damages even if the accident was your fault.
However, if damages exceed $10,000 or the auto accident causes permanent bodily injury, scarring, or disfigurement, the victims have the option to file a claim against the other driver and sue for the remaining damages. In this situation, fault will be assigned and it will be determined how much each party must pay to cover damages.
When it comes to driving, hunting Pokemon is negligence, plain and simple. If you are injured by a negligent Pokemon Go player, reach out to a Florida personal injury lawyer today to get the compensation you need.
About the Author:
Steven Slootsky is a 1985 graduate of Nova Law School, which means he’s been a practicing Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer for more than 2 decades. He founded the Law Offices of The Injury Law Firm of South Florida in 1991. The Fort Lauderdale-based accident attorney is a member of the Florida Bar, as well as the Federal Bar for the Southern District for the U.S. District Court. During his career as a personal injury lawyer/auto accident compensation attorney, Steven has served as the co-chair of the Workers’ Compensation section for Broward County, Florida. He is also a Bronze member of the Florida Workers Advocates, a former member of the board, and serves as an “Eagle” member of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers.