In the world of law, discovery of evidence used to be based on basic things like measurements, photographs, witness statements and medical records. Now, it’s not unusual to have discovery include a fishing expedition with a look toward online social media.
Usually, interrogatory questions from each side include discovery of Facebook accounts and whether people have other online messaging that might include a person’s description of life. If a person says that they are hurting and can’t do very much, are they posting pictures of their bowling night? Do you see them posting their picture with a grin… as they jump on their backyard trampoline?
Well, now there’s another possible source of information that may be relevant in a claim. The Washington Post recently reported on how technology could soon kill the art of lying. “Lies are a fact of life,” the newspaper says. “But technology may soon make them obsolete.”
According to the ABA Journal, “Data from wearable devices is being eyed as evidence in the courtroom”. Lancaster Online tells the story of one criminal case where the defense in a rape case was able to use the tracking of a Fitbit to fight the charge. A woman said she was asleep when she awoke to find a rapist who assaulted her. The woman’s Fitbit, however, showed that the woman was awake and walking around at the time she claimed to be asleep. Just something to try and create reasonable doubt in a juror’s mind.
Insurance companies are using posted pictures, GPS exercise watches, cell phone GPS discovery and discovery of the identification of friends through social media accounts. This information might help them defend worker’s compensation claims and auto accident injury claims.
Cars now provide data to establish how fast a defendant’s car was traveling at point of impact. Truck drivers might keep two sets of log books to try and fake how long they have been driving. However, now their trucks can establish distance traveled during a specific time, and potentially the speed they travel.
Discovery can tell a story that can refute the defense. It’s part of the reason that I try to encourage people to let us get to work quickly on their claim before information is lost. Maybe try to get that security video footage that may be only available for a short period of time and then erased. On the flip side, insurance companies investigate claims quickly… while they discourage people from hiring lawyers. Pretty savvy on their part.
Still, I never thought that I would see the day when someone’s Garmin or Fitbit would be part of evidence. As one TV show used to say, “The Truth is out there”.
And for pic o’ day, here’s some “photograph discovery”: