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The Pokemon Go Effect: What’s Legal and What’s Not

By Keith Stachowiak on August 18, 2016 // Leave a Comment

murphyprachthauserpokemongolaw_fullsize_story1.jpgThe Pokemon Go phenomenon is taking over the nation, in parks, streets, private property and unfortunately, even near roadways.

As Milwaukee personal injury lawyers, we've been paying attention to all of the recent news about injuries and accidents related to Pokemon Go players.

Here is what you should consider if you are participating in Pokemon Go and the flipside, if you run into someone who is!

Pokemon Go and Driving Don’t Mix.

Wisconsin, like almost every other state, has a prohibition on inattentive driving.

"No person while driving a motor vehicle may be engaged or occupied with an activity, other than driving the vehicle, that interferes or reasonably appears to interfere with the person's ability to drive the vehicle safely.”

But it gets even more specific and this is where is really affects Pokemon Go players — the law also provides that

"No person while driving a motor vehicle ... may operate or be in a position to directly observe any electronic device located within the vehicle that is activated and that is providing entertainment primarily by visual means.”

While there are exceptions to the law for GPS systems or displays to show traffic or the areas in or around the car, Pokemon Go does not apply.

In the court of law, using a cell phone to play Pokeman Go while driving a car would likely constitute inattentive driving, as well as the prohibition on using entertainment devices while driving a vehicle. The statutes impose fines for various violations of between $20 and $400.

Pedestrian Pokemon Go Players Should Be Careful, Too.


Pedestrians can cause vehicle accidents just as easily as drivers on the road. Pedestrians therefore, should consider how their actions could disrupt traffic. Crossing at somewhere other than a crosswalk, for example, can cause a car to swerve to miss you, and as a result, strike another vehicle or tree, but ultimately, you are responsible.

The same would hold true if you acted irresponsibly while playing Pokeman Go. You could be held responsible for damages you cause to motor vehicles or other property as a result of your actions as a distracted pedestrian.

If you are a pedestrian hit by driver on a mobile device, you may have a legal case on your hands. Consider contacting a personal injury lawyer for the best advice.

Understanding the ‘Safety Statute’.

The real consequences of distracted driving or using a mobile device as a pedestrian may follow if you are involved in an accident that causes injury. This law is known as a "Safety Statute.”

If you violate a safety statute, you are negligent as a matter of law. No ifs ands or buts, you are negligent, and in most cases, your insurance company or you as an individual will be liable for the damage or injury that you cause.

Why Minors In Particular, Should Take Note.

The safety statute is also very specific that a person who holds a probationary license or instruction permit cannot operate any motor vehicle while using any cell or wireless device, except to report an emergency.

What If You Are Injured While Playing Pokemon Go?

If you are playing this game outside and are injured, your distracted state means you are likely barred from suing the owner of the property. It doesn’t a matter you encounter a dangerous pothole, a broken step or even a missing handrail  — recreational activities, especially distracted recreational activities, present immunity challenges.

Wisconsin has what is known as a recreational activity immunity act. It prevents anyone who is engaged in "any outdoor activity undertaken for the purpose of exercise, relaxation or pleasure ... and any other outdoor sport, game or educational activity" from pursuing legal action. The law provides that anyone who own or controls the property has no duty to keep the property safe for recreational activities, a duty to inspect the property for unsafe conditions, or no duty to warn of unsafe conditions.

The bottom line here — if you are engaged in playing Pokemon Go and hurt someone else, you could be held liable. If you are injured while engaging in the activity, you probably cannot sue.

Submit a Free Case Evaluation Now

If you are still looking for the right lawyer for you, consider filling out a free case evaluation and talking with a Milwaukee personal injury attorney today. You’ll see the difference when you have the opportunity to talk directly with an expert Milwaukee personal injury lawyer.


At Murphy & Prachthauser we are car accident attorneys in Milwaukee and personal injury attorneys in Milwaukee who practice the law the way it should be practiced – motivated and equipped to do our best for you. We take pride in being good lawyers who help people. 

If you have a case you would like to speak to a personal injury lawyer about, please contact us to schedule a free consultation and get an experienced Milwaukee auto accident attorneys and Milwaukee personal injury lawyers working on your behalf.

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