- Phone data that shows that the individual was texting or using data functions, like a web browser, at the time of the accident.
- Data that contradicts testimony. For example, if a defendant is suspected of having been under the influence of marijuana at the time of the accident, but there is no police toxicology report in evidence, the defendant’s phone may reveal that the defendant visited a pot dispensary shortly before the accident.
- Data to prove concrete details about the accident itself. An individual may have taken video or photographs in the lead-up to the accident, or afterward. If those records don’t support the individual’s case, the individual may unlawfully try to delete them.
Cell phones are constantly gathering and sending data. Last year a Princeton study determined that some phones even track their users’ location if GPS and location tracking is manually disabled. An individual’s every screen view, not to mention texting or other forms of deliberate use, can be recorded in a phone’s memory. After an accident, all of this data can sometimes offer insights into the causes and responsibility for the accident. In the aftermath of an accident the people involved in the incident typically turn to their insurance companies for help resolving issues of fault and compensation. In a minor accident, such as one involving damages that don’t exceed the at-fault driver’s policy limits, questions of evidence may not arise. The two insurers may simply resolve the case following a routine process. A more complex accident case, however, may hinge on a close analysis of the facts surrounding the case. This can be especially important if the accident involved significant personal injuries, where the amount of potential liability is large. In such cases, both sides have a substantial incentive to uncover evidence that is favorable to their position. Cell phone data can be one source of such evidence. Here are some examples: