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Using Cell Phone Memory as Evidence in an Accident Lawsuit

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:
  • 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.
Getting ahold of cell phone evidence can be a challenge. Evidence can be subject to a subpoena, a court order that requires a party to provide the evidence to the other side even against objections. Some forms of data are not readily accessible to users and may require additional technical steps that require the help of outside consultants. If an individual has tried to delete information, the information may need to be recovered using special software. If the evidence can be used to prove a key component of a case, these efforts are worth the customary expense. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury and accident cases. We are happy to provide free attorney consultations to individuals who have been injured in an accident. Call 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Using a Cell Phone to Record Details of an Accident

Cell phone cameras are valuable tools for gathering evidence after an accident. The first priority after an accident should be to call police and emergency services, stabilize any injuries, and get clear of hazards like burning vehicles. Once those essential steps are taken, and provided that circumstances allow for it, taking photos or even video can help attorneys, insurance companies, and police investigators analyze the accident.

What sort of photo evidence is useful?

The short answer to this question is: all of it. A photograph can reveal things that our minds don’t process in the moment. While we’re focused on the damage to a car we may not see an important detail that is outside the focus of our vision. A photograph may capture this detail and make it available later. There are limitless possibilities about what may be important to photograph at the scene. Here are some important examples
  • All visible damage to the vehicles involved.
  • Roadway conditions, like debris, skid marks, or spilled oil or other chemicals that might have contributed to the crash.
  • The scene of the accident, including the location of traffic signs and signals, the address, weather.
  • Personal injuries, but note that before taking pictures of an injured person it’s important to first get their consent.
Moving around the scene to capture photos from many angles is important for building up a complete record of the scene. One area where this can be important is if the two drivers involved in the crash have different recollections of how the crash occurred. Having photos from various angles of damage to the vehicles may help investigators determine what actually happened.

Be mindful of the photos as evidence

Once photos of the scene are on your phone it’s important to take steps to preserve them. Getting them downloaded to a computer or uploaded to cloud storage should be a priority. It’s very important to preserve the photos in their original format: editing a photo may raise doubts about its authenticity later on. Also take care before putting accident photos onto social media sites. The best approach is to avoid making any statements about an accident online, but this can be especially true of photos, which may have unintended consequences, such as offending the privacy rights of an injured individual.

GGRM is a Las Vegas accident law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients who have been injured in auto accidents recover compensation. If you have been injured in an accident please call us for a free, no obligation attorney consultation. Reach out to us today at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Implications of Cell Phone Cameras for Police Officers

s of Cell Phone Cameras for Police Officers

While police officers are like everyone in that they own and carry around smartphones for personal use, in recent years smartphones have increasingly become a part of an officer’s professional equipment. They can be used to call in reports, email witnesses, and take pictures of crime and accident scenes. However, they also bring with them potential issues and complications that police officers should be aware of.

There is no question that smart phones bring with them significant benefits for law enforcement officers. A smart phone can be an invaluable tool while an officer is on patrol. One of its main pros in this context is that it gives an officer the ability to communicate with individuals who don’t have access to a radio; it also serves as a backup communication device in case the radio signal is compromised. Smart phones also give officers access to real time information via the internet that can be utilized during disasters or community events. Smart phones also give any officer the capability to take relatively high quality photos at crime scenes that can then be used in subsequent investigations. Officers at the scene can also pass along pictures of suspects and vehicles to their counterparts on patrol. Smart phone cameras can also be used during disturbances to help disperse crowds and provide evidence later of what the conditions on the ground were like. On the other hand, smart phones can act as a potentially dangerous distraction to officers on duty. They can adversely affect situational awareness, or even cause an officer to momentarily lose sight of a suspect. A significant legal pitfall is the potential for officers’ posts and tweets to be used in court to attack their credibility. Ill-advised social media posts can also hurt community relations, or even ruin an officer’s career. Another common issue is the use of smart phones while officers are driving their vehicles. Many states have enacted legislation that prohibits using smart phones while driving; however, in states like California officers have been exempted from this law. Oftentimes this is something that is regulated on the department level. Many departments have embraced the new technology by issuing their officers smart phones, but forbid their use while driving. This is indicative of the give and take approach police forces across the country are taking with this and other emerging technologies. GGRM is proud of our long and distinguished record advocating on the behalf of public employees. Our attorneys love doing it, and are exceptionally good at it. Whether you need legal representation immediately or would just like to speak with an attorney, give us a call at 702-388-4476.