What does Pokémon GO mean 
for personal injury?

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What does Pokémon GO mean 
for personal injury?

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Landowners must ensure their property is safe for Pokémon hunters, invited or not, says James Barker

Every year we see a

new technological phenomenon targeted at children (and adult enthusiasts).This summer’s craze has been locating Pokémon via the Pokémon GO mobile app. Utilising the latest GPS software, users can go on their own UK-wide hunt to track down these virtual creatures

While it may be argued that this new craze gets people out of the house and promotes exercise and activity, there is an element of danger to it.

The problem is that the makers of Pok̩mon GO strategically position some characters in remote areas in order to increase the difficulty of completing missions and raising the competition among Pok̩mon enthusiasts Рand serious accidents are occurring as

a result.

This means that landowners,

as set out under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957, should be extra vigilant in ensuring that their premises are safe for any visitors Рincluding Pok̩mon hunters Рwhich they invite onto their premises. Failure to do so could render them liable for any injuries sustained.

The duty of care owed will not only apply to visitors who are invited onto their premises, but could also include trespassers.

In the landmark case of British Railways Board v Herrington

from 1972, the court held that occupiers owed a limited duty

of care to trespassers.

The case involved a railway

line fence that the British Railway Board (BRB) had knowingly left in a bad state of repair. The claimant had trespassed onto the railway line through a broken fence, resulting in electrocution, and liability was found on the part of the BRB.

The courts stated the presence of an allurement increases the risk that children will be attracted to the danger, and that this, in turn, increases the level of precautions the land’s owner/occupier has to take. The courts will also look at the state of the premises to see if it was hazardous to people entering. This will raise many questions and could potentially leave the door open for claimants injured through hunting for Pokémon.

Liability will attach under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 which deals specifically with trespassers, if they are aware of the danger or have reasonable grounds to believe it exists, or if they know or have reasonable grounds to believe that the trespasser is in or may come into the vicinity of the danger. A child can reasonably expect greater care to be taken for their safety than an adult can, as per the case of Young v Kent County Council from 2005, in which a young boy fell through a skylight in the defendant’s building.

I would suggest that with this craze for Pok̩mon and GPS-led games, owners should carry out regular assessments of their land to minimise the risk of injury to visitors, or even Рcontroversially Рtrespassers. Failure to do so could render them liable for any injuries sustained. It is therefore important that they take these steps to ensure that there is no liability attached to them while also making the premises safe

for visitors that they invite onto their land.

It is also essential that landowners ensure that this

new generation of distracted members of the public are taken into account when delivering sufficient health and safety measures – and minimise the

risk of personal injury and potential compensation claims

as a result.

James Barker is an associate solicitor at Kirwans @KirwansLaw www.kirwanssolicitors.co.uk