Is smartphone data being used in car accident lawsuits?

Has the face of personal injury litigation changed? Thanks to smartphones and electronic evidence, that answer is yes.

For example, in a recent article we described a New Jersey appeals court decision that determined that remote texting liability might attach in a distracted driving crash. Specifically, an individual that continues to send texts to someone he or she knows is driving may be held liable in the event the recipient crashes and causes injuries to another.

The decision contemplates the existence of electronic information, such carrier data that could establish timing. When third parties maintain electronic information that is relevant to a lawsuit, the rules of civil procedure permit a plaintiff to subpoena that data. If that data were in the defendant’s possession, a request for production would be the equivalent, and the defendant could be liable in the event he or she failed to preserve relevant electronic evidence.

The dangers of texting and driving are both intuitive and documented by studies. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver distraction was the cause behind 18 percent of fatal crashes nationwide in 2012. Anyone that use used a smartphone knows how it usurps the owner’s attention. Yet taking one’s eyes of the road or even attempting to multitask behind the wheel might come at a deadly cost. Traffic conditions can change in an instant, and that moment might go undetected if one is texting or engaged in a phone call while driving.

For a law firm that focuses on car accidents, this underscores the importance ofthoroughly investigating the cause of an accident. Although attempts may be made to shift blame, cell phone records, traffic cams and other electronic evidence may reveal the true cause of the crash. We also have relationships with experts that can interpret aspects of electronic data, such as metadata.