Pokemon Go and Your Property Liability

Written by on 2016-07-18 9:39 AM . It has 0 Comments.

A new video game, or app, has attracted some 47 million users world-wide in a matter of days. Pokemon Go, if you aren’t familiar, involves augmented reality – a combination of real world surroundings with fictional monsters, Pokemon, superimposed on a smartphone screen – which allows players to collect monsters and compete with other players. And now Pokemon Go is officially available in Canada.

With the huge following this game has garnered have come reports of injuries, robberies and trespassing. Injuries from players not paying attention to their surroundings have resulted from slip and falls or walking into objects or bumping into other players. While distracted walking is nothing new, and certainly not limited to Pokemon Go, with the game’s hyper-popularity comes increased risk to players.

What Happens If Someone Gets Hurt on My Home or Business Property?

If you have property insurance, whether commercially for your business or personally for your home or cottage, you have premises liability. Premises liability protects you from any claims brought against you as a result of an injury which occurs on your property. For example, the number one claim for businesses is the slip and fall. A customer slips on wet floor and falls, injuring themselves. This means the business is liable for that injury and could be sued.

Related Read - How Can You Protect Your Business from Accident Claims?

For homeowners, if you happen to have things like pools or trampolines there is a greater risk of guests having an injury while on your property. Even if you take precautions, put up fencing around your pool, or have special trampolines with netting and enforce single user at a time rules, accidents can happen. And, you’d be on notice for a claim because the injury happened on your property.

Related Read - Summertime Safety

With Pokemon Go we’ve heard many reports of players trespassing onto private property. This is a serious issue. The game maker, Niantic Inc., has advised players to be safe and alert at all times. The OPP have cautioned people that trespassing because of Pokemon Go is not only unacceptable, it's illegal.

Insurance companies will likely treat Pokemon Go like they would any other allurement (see the pool and trampoline above) and any injury on your property that a Pokemon Go player suffers could mean a potential claim being made against you or your company. This is why having adequate property insurance liability limits helps an owner deal with events and circumstances beyond their control.

Here are some tips for property owners dealing with Pokemon Go players:

  • Arrange locations and spots where players could play and not get hurt. Example direct players to parking lots. But only if applicable. 
  • Interact with players as a marketing opportunity.
  • Post signs directed at Pokemon Go players which provide warnings and dangers, and which do not make fun of or have derogatory messages. Be respectful in your tone and messaging – you’ll get better results than if you’re condescending and mean.
  • Finally, why not join the game and find out exactly how your property is impacted?

Here are some tips for Pokemon Go Players:

  • Be aware of your surroundings. That means know who’s around you, where you are and what’s going on.
  • Do not Trespass on private property – that means don’t be climbing fences or trees or sneaking onto private property. You could get arrested or worse, hurt.
  • There are plenty of other places to capture Pokemon. Remember the game is for fun. Be safe.

Further Changes Likely

The video game maker may have their own liability issues as well if more and more players get hurt as a result of playing Pokemon Go. We may yet see fixes for some of the more egregious issues where Pokemon are found on private property. Providing alerts when a pokemon is nearby rather than players constantly having to look at the screen would help with safety.

Have any questions or comments? We’d love to read them. Please write them below.

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Thanks for reading.

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