Players, with eyes glued to their smartphones, look for digital creatures in real world locations.
“A common complaint from people who are involved in accidents is that the driver who hit them was or was likely using their mobile phone - I'm waiting for a new generation of cases where the offending driver was using Pokémon Go,” said O’Connor, director of Bennett & Phillip Lawyers.
Already one American player has crashed his car into a tree while playing the game driving and O’Connor said players in Australia should think more carefully about the risks of playing dangerously.
“Don’t drive or cycle and Pokémon hunt at the same time,” O’Connor said, adding that players are not immune to legal action if they injure someone while playing the game.
“If you cause an accident that results in injury to others or damage because you were distracted, you could find yourself at the sharp end of a damages claim.
“Explaining that you were pursuing Pikachu, or Charmander, Squirtle or Bulbasaur won’t cut it at a compo hearing.”
In Brisbane, one well known bicycle shop has advertised the sale of Pokémon Go handlebar mounts, which O’Connor said is particularly worrying.
“Cyclists are subject to the same road user laws as motorists so the same cautions apply over not cycling and being distracted by your mobile phone while chasing cartoon creatures around the streets,” he said.
But while some Australian cities have received safety complaints about players congregating about sacred sites like war memorials, a report by the Sydney Morning Herald today said that Brisbane City Council hasn’t received any such complaints
“Council does not have any records of complaints about Pokémon Go usage around the city, or any related public safety concerns,” a spokesperson for the council said.
Slater and Gordon lawyer Emma Aldersea echoed O’Connor’s statements, telling the Herald that players should be mindful of where they are playing at all times, particularly around private property.
“The biggest legal risk for Pokémon Go trainers is the temptation of trespass, especially when Pokéstops are located on private property, such as schools or people's yards,” she said.
“The penalties for trespass vary from state to state, but fines can run into the thousands and imprisonment terms can be up to one year – remember: there will always be another Zubat.”
Injury compensation lawyer Mark O’Connor is warning Australian Pokémon Go players of the ramifications of dangerous playing, following overseas reports of obsessed players causing accidents overseas.