Evidence from Smart Devices: How your device may help prove your case

Were you wearing or using any smart devices at the time or after the accident occurred? If the answer is yes, then you should know that the smart technology in your device may be useful in building a stronger case on your behalf.

Popular wearable devices such as the Apple Watch Series, Garmin Forerunner, Fitbit Versa, GoPro Hero, Cycliq, and other similar devices store GPS data. This GPS data can include the route of the user during the accident, previous routes of the user, and the last position of the user at the time of the accident. These devices also store speed data, video evidence, and some allow for Bluetooth communication via text or calling when paired to a smart phone, providing data showing whether the owner was engaged in a phone conversation or texting.

Bruce A. Hagen writes about the integral role wearable smart devices can play in a personal injury case in the book – Litigating Minor Impact Soft Tissue Cases Vol. 2:

“In some cases, a client’s use of a fitness application can help a lawyer to gather evidence and find witnesses. For example, in a recent case, a client was riding his bicycle headed home from work. On his ride, he was connected to a web-based application called Strava, which in addition to tracking routes and the speed of the rider, connects people with other Strava users and shares the data. On this particular day, the client had a crash with a truck and sustained a head injury in the process. He had no recollection of the crash, remembering only events just before the wreck and then “waking up” in the hospital. When he regained his senses, the client got on Strava to see if there were any other Strava users in the area at the time of the crash. Sure enough, he found someone who had seen the crash, stopped to render help, taken pictures, and gathered witness information. Had the client not been part of the Strava community, he never would have found the witness, whose name was not included in the police report.

“Not only are wearable smart devices advantageous for evidence at the time of the accident, but they are also sources of evidence for your client’s health following the accident. The FitBit Surge allows the user to view one’s resting heart rate and creates graphs to analyze trends in one’s resting heart rate over a period of time which can show the increase in heart rate following the injuries as the body works harder to recover. Additionally, the FitBit’s accelerometer analyzes the user’s activities which could be used to show the contrast between the client’s health and the health of a comparable person of age and gender.

“Other applications that store workouts, rides, runs and walks can be used to show a difference in [a Plaintiff’s] performance before and after a wreck. Whether… a high-level athlete, a weekend warrior or just someone who likes to track their workouts, you can obtain a great personal history of [a Plaintiff’s] physical abilities. This can be useful in many ways, one of which is to overcome the defense that [a Plaintiff] was suffering from a pre-existing condition at the time of the wreck such that the injuries claimed, and the treatment provided were either unnecessary or exaggerated.”

If you have been involved in an accident and have a personal injury claim, we recommend you save and store the data from any wearable devices you had at the time of the accident, including data from before and after the accident. This also applies to video evidence from GoPro cameras, dashboard cameras and bicycle cameras. It is safer to download and save your data to a laptop or computer since your wearable device or camera may store a limited amount of data at a time and will disappear if not downloaded or saved.

Bruce A. Hagen co-authored the book Litigating Minor Impact Soft Tissue Cases Vol. 1, 2 & 3 with Karen K. Koehler and Michael D. Freeman.