Woodland Hills car accident lawyer Barry P. Goldberg is well aware of both distracted driving accidents and the new Pokemon Go craze! As a father of two and as a personal injury lawyer, the potential for catastrophic accidents of the target generation of this game is downright scary. Of course, teens, twenties and all drivers should never text and drive. However, the lure of “catching” a rare Pokemon to a target driver may be overwhelming!
Nintendo recently launched its Pokemon Go application and has created a craze. For those not aware, app users can now look through the camera of their handheld device and spot these adorable and interesting Pokemon creatures virtually luring around the real world! Players (trainers) can point and click their way to capturing these creatures. Do you remember the slogan “Got to Catch Them All?”
Sharing Pokemon with my kids about 15 years ago was a lovely and engaging pastime. I loved bringing home Pokemon cards on a Friday afternoon and preparing for the discussion of whether a Bulbasour could defeat an electric Pokemon! Now—– my kids are driving! The lure of these sentimental creatures nearby must be exciting and overwhelming.
I am reminded of a case from my own teenage years, and discussed in law school, Weirum v. RKO General, Inc. (1975) 15 Cal. 3d 40, 539 P.2d 36, 123 Cal.Rptr. 468. At that time, KHJ pop radio was king in Southern California. KHJ conducted a contest in which a mobile disc jockey would announce his location and offer a cash prize to the first listener to reach it. A listener (also a minor) attempted to follow the disc jockey to his next location. In his pursuit the listener negligently forced another car off the road, killing the driver. In a nutshell, the radio station was found liable because it created an unreasonable risk of harm.
The similarities to the Pokemon Go craze are readily apparent. More importantly, drivers need to turn off their phones if capturing Pokemon is an actual lure. We hope that Nintendo can disable the app while “trainers” are driving. Further, we can hope that the location of truly “rare” Pokemon will not create a rush on the roads that may cause needless accidents, injuries and death. It remains to be seen whether the app is sensitive to real life— not virtual— concerns.