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Vehicle crashes and deaths may be greater near Pokéstops

Ever since its release in July 2016, the augmented reality game "Pokémon Go" has been cited as a major cause of auto accidents. A study conducted by two Purdue University professors has shown a direct connection between the game and distracted driving. This trend may have affected West Virginia and the rest of the U.S.

After studying nearly 12,000 crash reports in Tippecanoe County, Ind., the authors found that while there was a county-wide increase in car accidents after the launching of "Pokémon Go," the increase was 26.5 percent greater at intersections near a Pokéstop -- the places where gamers must visit in order to procure in-game items. Authors estimate that an additional 134 accidents, 31 injuries and two deaths possibly took place at these locations. The data was culled from a 148-day period after the game's launch.

By extrapolating the information, the authors speculated that in the same five-month period, 145,000 crashes, 29,000 injuries and 250 deaths may have been caused across the country by "Pokémon Go." Niantic, the developer of "Pokémon Go," has taken steps in the past to dissuade drivers from playing while behind the wheel. While the crash risk may also decrease as the game popularity wains, other phone-related distractions continue to be a threat.

When such distractions cause a car accident, the at-fault driver could be held responsible. If warranted, the injured party may speak with a lawyer about filing a claim that could cover medical expenses, vehicle damage, lost wages and future lost income. The lawyer could hire investigators to find proof of the defendant's negligence before proceeding to negotiations.

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