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Watch Out For Pokemon Accidents in Wisconsin

by | Jul 14, 2016 | Personal Injury

The phenomenon of Pokemon Go is getting people off the couch and outside exercising. However, people and news agencies are reporting an increase in car crashes, bicycle accidents, trip and falls, sunburns, and even finding a dead body. Distracted driving is already a huge problem resulting in wrongful deaths, criminal prosecutions, and new laws. To prevent that problem becoming worse, smartphone users need to be more vigilant, and Wisconsin drivers need to know the applicable laws.

Wisconsin motorists must yield to pedestrians in marked AND unmarked crosswalks. An unmarked crosswalk will generally be an extension of the sidewalk that would cross the roadway. However, pedestrians cannot step out into traffic suddenly into the path of a moving vehicle when it would be difficult for the vehicle to stop. So pedestrians and motorists need to keep a lookout. Green lights won’t necessarily help a motorist either. For example, even on a green light, a motorist cannot begin a turn if it could endanger a pedestrian legally in the crosswalk.

Bicyclists are generally considered to be pedestrians. Thus, motorists have to be particularly vigilant in the summer when many bikes are on the road and sidewalks and they can enter crosswalks suddenly. Bicyclists have to be aware of their local ordinances. Some cities and towns prohibit bicycles from riding on sidewalks in certain areas such as business districts.

Most of the Wisconsin Rules of the Road do NOT apply to parking lots. Thus, determining liability for a parking lot crash can be difficult and result in protracted litigation. In many cases, the law simply requires drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, operators of play vehicles, and people in motorized wheelchairs to be reasonable and prudent. It is imperative for everyone to go slow and watch in all directions when in a parking lot.

When crossing a roadway by other than an unmarked or marked crosswalk, the burden is on the pedestrian or bicyclist to yield to motor vehicles. However, motorists must still remain observant because a pedestrian could legally begin crossing before the motorist is observable or in the area.

One may think that a pedestrian with their gaze fixed upon their smart phone would be at fault if they trip and fall. However, that is not necessarily the case. Property owners need to inspect their premises and make repairs to all points of ingress and egress, including doorways, walkways and the like. Federal, and sometimes local, regulations set the amount of height that is acceptable for changes in level and firmness of surfaces. If a ramp is required but is not in place, the property owner could find themselves liable for an injured Pokemon player. There is at least one report of a person falling into a hole while playing. Even though a hole may be open and obvious, it would make sense to clearly mark the hole, repair it, or block off the area.

Wisconsin has very strict laws protecting property owners from lawsuits by people injured while using the property for a recreational purpose. It is too early to tell how these laws will affect people on other’s property while playing Pokemon. Such a case could involve application and interpretation of Wisconsin immunity laws, trespassing laws, negligence laws, nuisance laws, and others.

At Hammett, Bellin & Oswald Law firm we have been protecting the rights of Wisconsin residents for many years. If you are involved in a personal injury, car crash, truck crash, trip and fall or similar serious matters, call us for a free consultation and know your rights and responsibilities before you strike out after Pokemon.