This Is Why Personal Injury Cases Are Getting More Complicated

According to a new report, wearable technology is complicating what used to be simple personal injury cases. The devices we choose to wear are capable of capturing all sorts of information, including health-related vitals like heart rate and blood pressure, but also more unbelievably, new devices can help users “hear” music through their skin. The potential applications are endless, and the limitations are almost nonexistent.

Better yet, the batteries are getting better. Microchip technology is getting exponentially cheaper. The technology is becoming more popular. Wearables seem poised for the mainstream more than ever before. They can even be placed in articles of clothing.

But what does that mean for personal injury cases?

Well, part of maintaining health by using those devices is based on where you are and what you are doing while wearing them. That means many of them have GPS–they can track your movements and they know where you are at any given time. That means the information–health-related or otherwise–can be used to impact your case (or someone else’s).

If a plaintiff alleges serious personal injury, the other party will doubtless want the data contained in a wearable device to see if they can poke holes in that case. Then again, it could provide a boon to your case if the information can’t be used to tell lies.

Part of the problem is admissibility, however. How much of the information obtained by your wearable devices will be admissible in court? How easily can that information be erased in preparation for discovery or similar legal motion? How much of that information is private?

Another complication is mandatory disclosure. If you make a personal injury claim, you will likely be legally compelled to disclose all information that can support your claim (even if another party might be able to use that information against you). Lawyers who aren’t yet savvy with new technology might not think about how these devices may or may not impact a case, and fail to disclose the necessary information.

This places a greater burden on both sides, who may use the discovery process to obtain information that was not initially disclosed. Clients will also need to be made aware that deletion of data before or after discovery may be illegal, especially if it is eventually called into evidence. The potential for accidental law-breaking is made much greater by the wave of wearables, and we haven’t yet adapted to the changes.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.