Personal injury lawsuits are often perceived as coaxing the courtroom with contrived or manipulative arguments in order to seek recovery for the injured plaintiffs. An injured party may claim that he or she can no longer perform the duties of their job, but how do you find out if they deserve a settlement worth thousands (or millions!)? Until now, attorneys have relied heavily on physicians to observe the injured party for a short time and give their opinion.
Using Fitbit to Substantiate Personal Injury Damages
Recently, however, data provided by a fitness tracker such as a Fitbit is being presented as a bold new method of proving disability. A law firm in Canada is currently working on the very first known personal injury lawsuit that will use the data from a Fitbit activity monitor to substantiate the damages of an accident.
The plaintiff in the case is a woman who was hurt in an accident about four years ago. Fitbit monitors were not even on the market then, but since she was a personal trainer, her attorneys can safely say she led a very active lifestyle. As the case moves forward, her attorneys will begin processing data from a Fitbit monitor to show that her activity levels are now at a significantly lower level than they were before the accident.
Until now, attorneys have had to rely on the testimony of a physician. They now have hard data to look at and are able to look at extended periods of time rather than just a short appointment time spent at the doctor’s office. The injured lady will share her Fitbit data over the course of several months. Her attorneys are expecting that the data will show that her level of activity is much less, and is compromised as a result of the injuries sustained in the accident.
Can Fitbit Be Used by Insurance Companies for Prosecutions?
Some find it disturbing that a case like this would open the door to device data being used in prosecutions as well as injury claims. Insurance companies will want this data as much as the injured party in the case. Insurance companies would not be able to force injured parties to wear Fitbit monitors as part of an “assessment period,” but they could possibly get a court order to get the data from whoever has it.
Technology and Litigation
Technology is always evolving. A few years ago courts requisitioned Facebook for certain information. If you have been wearing a Fitbit monitor, it is very likely you would see court orders to disclose the data that’s on it. Data from Fitbit devices and others like it are set to become more insightful for the courts as the sensors inside the device become more sophisticated. They will not only be tracking steps, but also the heartbeat and the temperature of the person wearing it.
Are Activity Trackers a “Black Box” for the Human Body?
Fitbits, and other devices like it, are yet another example of how modern technology could provide a wealth of relevant information in court cases, but what do you think? Does it seem like a credible source of information, or something that could be easily manipulated? I, for one, am always intrigued by quantifiable data, though I’m not convinced that data from an activity tracker would effectively sway verdicts in our American courts. The possibility of using data for prosecution, on the hand, is something I think we should all seriously contemplate.
If you have been injured in an accident, you need a personal injury attorney on your side.