Why this New App
is an Accident Waiting to Happen
As I was driving through my neighborhood on my way home from work, I saw a pack of kids riding their bikes. Bike riding is a wonderful thing. I am an active person, and I am always overjoyed to see kids playing together. However, all the kids were holding their phones in the air, riding down the center of the road, and unaware that I was approaching. Clearly, they were playing Pokmon Go.
What is Pokmon Go?
Pokmon Go is an App for your mobile device that uses your phones GPA and clock. Its purpose is to create a virtual reality utilizing your real world location to encourage you to travel around your area to catch Pokmon. As you travel around, you can visit PokStops, which are locations where you can obtain special items to enhance the game. And, according to multiple websites and sources, this free App is currently more popular that online porn.
In theory, the game promotes activity. In order to play the game, you must move around. The problem is, people are already taking it too far. People are falling off skateboards, trespassing on private property, tripping over items in the street resulting in serious injury, and playing the App while driving in order to increase their scores. The App was released less than a week ago, and car accidents are already being reported.
Pokmon Go and Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is the leading cause of car accidents in the United States. Obviously with the invention of smart phones, it is even easier to become distracted while driving. In Ohio, it is already illegal to text and drive. See ORC 4511.204. However, cameras and Apps are just as distracting.
Should you cause an accident while on your cellular phone while driving, you will be legally responsible for the accident. Furthermore, if it is proven that you were on your cellular phone while driving, punitive damages could be awarded against you.
What are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are considered exemplary damages. They are only recoverable from a defendant if a verdict is returned in favor of the plaintiff and compensatory damages are awarded.
If compensatory damages are awarded and an injured party can demonstrate that the defendant acted with malice or aggravated or egregious fraud, or that the defendant as principal or master knowingly authorized, participated in, or ratified actions or omissions of an agent or servant, the distracted driver could be liable for punitive damages. Punitive damages are not covered by an insurance policy, and the driver must pay them directly, out-of-pocket.
The burden of proof is high for punitive damages. The injured party must establish by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with conscious disregard for the rights and safety of another person in a matter that likely caused substantial harm.
Arguably, if it can be proven that you are playing a game like Pokmon Go while operating a motor vehicle, punitive damages could be awarded against you. Right now, the area is new, and courts across the country are split on whether the use of a cellular phone can warrant an award of punitive damages. However, personal injury lawyers across the county are currently zealously advocating for punitive damages in cases where cellular phones were involved in serious accidents.
Will I Get Caught?
If I am on the other side you will. Experienced attorneys know how to obtain social media information, email information, cellular phone data, and how to image your electronic devices. In litigation, I ALWAYS ask for cellular phone information, app information, and social media networking. My team investigates open social media profiles, and, if we find information to suggest that you regularly use a cellular phone while driving, we dig further.
Pokmon Go is a NO GO.
It is only a matter of time. Dont be the example. Dont cause an accident because you are playing an App while driving a motor vehicle. Tell your children to be aware of their surroundings while playing. Dont let them bike or ride a skateboard while playing this game. While Pokmon Go may promote activity, make sure you are playing responsibly.
If you have been injured by a distracted driver, call (614) 586-7900 for a FREE CONSULTATION. I have helped injured victims all over Ohio recover damages for personal injuries caused by distracted drivers.