As the use of movement tracking devices like the Fitbit has gained momentum among the health-conscious public, litigators, too, are seeing the value of these wearable items, which can provide hard data on a person’s activity levels that could potentially substantiate or disprove an injury claim.
Acting as a sort of black box for the human body, the notion of utilizing this data is not as far-fetched as it may seem. As of today, there is one known case where information from a Fitbit is being used to show that a plaintiff is unable to perform physical activity at the level she had before her car accident.
The case centers on a young woman who was in a car collision four years ago. At the time, the woman was a personal trainer, and she claims that she was an especially active person thanks to her career. Although Fitbits did not exist at the time of her accident, the plaintiff has agreed to provide several months of activity data to prove that her activity level is now below the baseline of someone her age and profession, thanks to her crash.
Could using information collected by Fitbit and other health tracking devices to prove or disprove personal injury become the norm? Quite possibly.
If a plaintiff is willing to provide this data to substantiate their case there is no telling how much information can be gleaned from wearables like the Fitbit. As sensors on these devices become more sophisticated, data could be retrieved on sleep patterns, heart rate and more. That means claims of insomnia due to post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and more could be substantiated with information from the plaintiff’s own body.
The use of devices like Fitbit is not limited to a single side of the case, either. Insurance companies could potentially use data to prove that a plaintiff is more active than they claim, or that their injury does not warrant the compensation they are seeking. In any case, harnessing the power of technology could alter the way cases are tried or settled in the near future.
Cases such as the Calgary auto accident can’t rely on this data alone, of course. Just as multiple resources are tapped to delve into the legitimacy of any injury claim, more than data from a health tracker must be utilized to build a robust personal injury case.
Furthermore, insurers would not be permitted to force a plaintiff to wear such a device with the intent of tracking their activity, but a court order could be requested to retrieve information from a device after the fact.
It may seem like a faraway concept, but the advent of Facebook alone is a perfect example of the way digital evidence has sneaked into the courtroom over the past few years. It is not unreasonable to assume that if a plaintiff uses a Fitbit or similar device, the court will requisition that data for disclosure in their case.
Depending on the case, the consideration of movement data could be a blessing or a headache. Certainly, Fitbit and other devices have opened a door that could lead to major adjustments in the way personal injury law is practiced everywhere.
If you have a legal question, contact The Eichholz Law Firm for help today. Our attorneys stay abreast of the latest technological advancements to ensure we are building the most compelling case possible for you.