Wearable technology has become part of everyday life during the past four or five years. Before that, cell phones with built-in video cameras were a new part of daily life. With the rise of smart items that are worn on your body, comes interesting conundrums related to personal injury cases.
In the past, people often had to capture the events of your accident on a cell phone or video camera to be able to have objective proof that the accident had occurred. The smartwatch trend has opened up new avenues of technologically generated proof that an accident has occurred. Having a smartwatch on your person means that you might be able to record your own accident and there can be records of actual health data from the event that are saved by the smartwatch.
If you want to know more about how smartwatches can affect your personal injury case, read on!
Possible Benefits a Smartwatch Might Offer Your Case
There are many possible benefits to your personal injury case that your smartwatch might offer you. Data recorded by your smartwatch can attest to your health prior to the accident and your watch might also record the extent of your injuries in your vitals that are taken during and after the accident.
Another instance where smartwatches can be helpful is to attest to your normal activities prior to your accident which can be compared to reduced or limited activities after the accident. If your smartwatch can record sound or you are on a call using your watch at the time of the accident, there might also be evidence related to the accident that is captured by the watch.
The Negatives of Using a Smartwatch for Evidence
The trouble with using smartwatch data for evidence in a personal injury case is that it is automatically compromised by the fact that it is personal data that identifies or locates an individual. While you are technically consenting to this invasion of your privacy, using any kind of data that has been taken without the full written consent of the person who was being observed is actually inadmissible in many kinds of court cases.
The other potential issue is related to the fact that you can also choose to stop wearing your watch after the accident if you want to make it seem like you are being less active or you might give your watch to another person which could skew the evidence that it supposedly represents to your case.
Smartwatches also have access to private documents, messages, and other correspondence that could cause issues related to your personal injury case. There is no way to sort out what data is being recovered from your watch when it is admitted as evidence, and there are many kinds of information stored in your smartwatch that you might not want to have admitted as evidence for your case.
Last of all, being allowed to enter the evidence from smartwatches in cases where it could prove beneficial also means that such information would be open to becoming part of the list of evidence types that people are forced to surrender to the court when asked. This opens up a lot of questions about the privacy of information and what is and what is not admissible in other kinds of court cases.
Balancing Risk With Reward
The current discussion surrounding smart technology like smartwatches is often about the comparison of the risks and rewards of using smartwatch data in any kind of case. Witness testimony is inherently flawed and seldom reliable, and there is a precedent that has been set for using surveillance video as evidence in many kinds of personal injury cases.
However, despite the situations where data from a smartwatch is the difference between a successful outcome for a client and a less than ideal outcome, smartwatch data being used as evidence comes with risks. Smartwatch data can self-incriminate people and it can also be incomplete and faulty owing to quirks of the technology being used as well as the personalized settings that users can choose.
Another issue that sometimes outweighs the benefits of smartwatch records, is that many users do not know how to back up data from their smartwatch and they might also be using the smartwatch in an incorrect manner that could lead to data that is not reproducible or relevant to the case. These records cannot always be generated as actual documents either, which opens up another can of worms related to which kinds of documents can be accepted for personal injury cases.
At this time, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require disclosure of copies of documents, electronic data, and other tangible material that might support a legal defense. Smartwatch data barely fits this set of parameters as it cannot often be produced in court and it might be affected or skewed by incomplete records as well as the possibility that the person involved in the case was not in possession of the watch at all times.
Smartwatch Data Legality as Evidence In Limbo
At this time, the final verdict on the nature of smartwatch data as evidence in personal injury cases has not been made. However, it is possible to use this data to help prove cases when it is leveraged in the proper manner. Those who are willing to provide their smartwatch data for use in their personal injury case should be prepared for potential complications if they do agree to its use.
As smart technology continues to become an increasingly normal part of daily life, the legal precedent will determine the final outcome of the question of which kinds of smart tech data are admissible and which kinds are not. In the personal injury world, this can mean the difference between a positive outcome and a negative one.
While the risks related to privacy and verification of this data are still present, the potential benefits to many personal injury cases make its inclusion in the evidence an acceptable risk.