Latest insights from our experts

Posted 24 August 2016
by Vernon Clarke

Pokémon Go and residential property laws

Pokemon Go has exploded into our lives and is being played the world over at an alarming rate by people of all ages.

The augmented reality game has seen players take to the streets as well as unfamiliar places with their attention focused solely on their phone or other device, which as you can already imagine has led to a wide range of accidents.

This begs the question, when an accident happens and a personal injury occurs, who does the blame land on? The player? The game engineers? Or perhaps the owner of the residential property where the injury occurred?

Recently in London’s Bexleyheath, a young male was knocked to the ground when a bike collided with him as his attention was on the game and not where he was walking. Is the cyclist at fault? Is it the player himself? Or are the game developers at fault for creating the game that is distracting him?

It comes as no surprise that solicitors and personal injury experts up and down the country are preparing for an influx or personal injury claims put forward by the games players.

When it comes to a personal injury claim and, in this case, caused by playing Pokémon Go there are a number of things to do after the incident has occurred, such as; informing the police, the land owners such as the council or the private land owner.

When a physical injury has occurred, details of said injury should be recorded, ideally photographic evidence as well as written account of the events that led to the injury. It’s best to do this as soon as possible after the event so the details are clear.

As it’s a device-based computer game the audience is primarily younger people between the ages of 12-18, and traditionally people have believed that a child who strays onto private property, in this case playing Pokémon Go, who sustains an injury whilst trespassing on that land is, by law, considered at fault, although this may not be the case here.

The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 says there’s a ‘legal responsibility for an occupier in control of land to make sure that either the property is safe should a child trespass, or that it is secure enough that a child would not be able to successfully enter.’

So what do you do if you don’t want people trespassing on to your business or residential property to play the game?

Well first of all, trespass laws are in your favour so if someone comes onto your property without your consent, you can call the police who will then deal with the trespassers.

In regards to Pokémon Go-related personal injury claims, it’s still very early days, with many solicitors and personal injury firms eagerly watching the outcomes of the first injury claims made. It’s key to remember your business and residential property premises need to be safe so even if people wander onto your property not looking up from their device, they and yourself are protected.


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About the author

Vernon Clarke

Partner and Solicitor

Partner and head of the property department