Smartwatches and fitness trackers are becoming a popular trend in today’s society, with devices such as the Fitbit, Apple watch, and Garmin Vivofit leading in popularity. These devices are advertised to monitor your everyday activity levels in an effort to promote a healthier lifestyle. In order to work appropriately, fitness trackers and other wearable technology devices must collect data about the wearer. This data is trackable and works essentially the same as black box data in an automobile or airplane, remaining available for review long after the collection date. This allows users to monitor their motion levels to ensure an increase in exercise and wellness activities over a long stretch of time. Recently, however, this data has been found to be useful for investigative means as well – even legal claims.
The physical activity level data collected by Fitbits and other trackers are accessible to outside parties in certain situations. Wearers should understand that activity tracked on these devices is many times discoverable and usable in investigations and legal claims. Law enforcement officials investigating a criminal case in Pennsylvania made use of a woman’s Fitbit activity as evidence. The officer had reasonable suspicion that the woman’s report of a sexual assault was untrue, so he used the Fitbit as further evidence. The device proved that the woman took approximately 1,000 steps after the time she claimed to have gone to bed and prior to calling 911. Officers believe that she staged the crime scene during those extra steps, and she has since been charged with tampering with evidence and filing a false report.
So what does this mean for personal injury claims? Because wearable data is not 100% accurate at all times, it will likely not be usable as a solitary source of evidence. Obtaining the information stored on fitness trackers will not be simple, either, as manufacturers will require a warrant or subpoena to disclose activity data for users. However, if an attorney can prove who was wearing the device and that the data is accurate, it is possible that stored data could be used to track movements and activity levels in personal injury claims. This would be especially helpful in proving an injured party’s lessened activity levels as a result of injuries from an incident where another was at-fault. Any proof of compromised activity levels could potentially be used as evidence in an injury claim.
As technologies advance, methods of personal injury attorneys will need to progress as well. At Jones & Swanson, we are committed to providing top-notch representation to every client. This includes using the most state-of-the-art methods of information collection and representation.