There have been many fads in my lifetime that I haven’t been able to convince myself to jump into. Pokémon was one of those fads. In 1996, when Pokémon was initially released, I was eight years old, and was too busy collecting Pogs to care about a silly card game about pocket monsters. I assumed, like Pogs, Pokémon would eventually fizzle out. Boy was I wrong. Last week the world erupted with virtual Pokémon when the Pokémon Go app was launched. Twenty years later and I still know absolutely nothing about it, but you’d have to living under a rock to not know what a phenomenon Pokémon Go has become.

From what I learned as I was researching this article, the premise of the mobile app game is simple: you use your smartphone to collect pokemon that are projected on the screen amid your actual surroundings. The app is being credited for getting people outside and walking around, which has helped with exercise as well as mental health. While the health benefits from Pokémon Go are proving to be great, there have been many safety concerns that have arisen.

When you aren’t aware of your surroundings because your mind is set on “Gotta catch ‘em all” a number of things can go wrong. The first publicized problem was criminals assaulting and/or robbing distracted players. On the opposite end of the spectrum, several police, fire, and military installations have had to issue statements regarding appropriate behavior when it comes to looking for Pokémon in or around their facilities.

Not only are people entering prohibited areas, or facing assailants, but they are also causing harm to themselves and others.

One of the more recent stories I read involved a driver who slammed into a Baltimore cop car because he was playing Pokémon Go while driving and did not see the car. Luckily, no one was injured in the incident, but easily could have been. Also reported: a girl was hit by a car when she walked out into traffic; two men survived a fall off a cliff; and, a teen survived a bite from a venomous snake. All while trying to catch make-believe fighting animals because they become so engrossed in the game that they are completely unaware of what is going on around them.

I previously wrote about distracted driving, which was obviously the case with the driver who hit the parked cop car, but distracted walking also exists. And just like with distracted driving, you too can be held liable if you cause harm to someone else while you are distractedly walking.

If you are out playing Pokémon go, there are many things to remember. First and foremost, always be aware of your surroundings. Never go into a building or area that you would not normally go into if you were not playing Pokémon Go. Look up from your phone more often than you look down at it to make sure you aren’t walking into traffic or off a cliff. And never use your cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. No pokemon, not even a Snorlax, is ever worth a serious injury to yourself or someone else.

If you end up injured because of someone else’s unawareness, whether it be because they were playing Pokémon Go and walked out in front of your car, or for any other reason, contact an attorney you can trust to help you.

By: Tatum Tipton