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Gotta Catch ‘Em All

Pokémon Go hysteria may last until at least the end of next week, and several Treasure Coast entrepreneurs are trying to cash in on the craze and decrease distracted driving.

One area man says he loves the game but admits he’s “not really into the walking.” So, for $25 an hour, he offers what one of his clients called “Uber for Pokémon.” He drives, and his passengers catch whatever happens to slink by. The entrepreneur added that he often takes riders to Pokémon Go hot spots, like the Pompano Beach Pier, where the social aspect of the popular smartphone game is in full effect.

The man has already had several dozen clients respond to his Craigslist ad, and others have gotten a ride simply by word of mouth.

Distracted Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently issued a warning about the hazards of playing Pokémon Go while driving, on top of the countless other warnings the federal watchdog agency, and other groups, have issued about distracted driving in general. Hand-held cellphones get most of the attention in this area because these devices combine all three types of distraction, which are:

  • Cognitive: Conversations with other people, whether they are inside the vehicle or in another country, cause drivers to take their minds off the road.
  • Visual: When drivers are looking at cellphone screens or passing street signs, or looking for open parking spaces, they are not watching the road.
  • Manual: Typing an email, adjusting the air conditioner, and tuning the radio all cause drivers to take at least one hand off the wheel.

The new-generation hands-free cellphones that are built into most new vehicles, with their large interactive screens and multiple functions, may be even more dangerous than hand-held devices, according to the National Safety Council. These gadgets still cause cognitive and visual distraction, while giving some drivers a false sense of security.

If the crash caused a serious injury, distracted driving-related crash victims can obtain compensation for both their economic damages, like lost wages, and noneconomic damages, like emotional distress. Punitive damages are also available, in some instances.

Distracted Driving and Negligence

In most cases, the plaintiff must prove duty, breach, factual cause, legal causation, and damages to recover money in a negligence case. But if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) violated a traffic law, the negligence per se shortcut may apply. In these instances, violation of a traffic or non-penal law creates a presumption of negligence, so the victim only needs to prove statutory violation and damages.

Florida’s cellphone law is rather narrow. It prohibits only “manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data on such a device for the purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication.” Playing a game on a phone while driving is not illegal; it is also not illegal to use an app, surf the web, or look at a map while driving. Arguably, it is not even illegal to send single-character text messages. So, in the event of a Pokémon Go distracted driving crash, the negligence per se shortcut is probably not available.

Reach Out to Experienced Attorneys

For prompt assistance with a car crash or other negligence claim, contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Port St. Lucie. At Eighmie Law Firm, P.A., we do not charge upfront legal fees in personal injury matters.

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