Can My Own Cell Phone Data Be Used Against Me in a Car Accident?

Can My Own Cell Phone Data Be Used Against Me in a Car Accident? If you were recently in a car accident and the opposing driver’s counsel is trying to prove you were at fault, your cell phone data might be requested during the “discovery period.” This period refers to attorneys gathering evidence to support their clients’ claims, which typically includes photos and videos of the accident, police and medical reports, and witness statements.

There are a variety of times where cell phone data provides evidence in car accident cases, even if the driver was not using their phone when the accident occurred. Some of the most common instances include:

  • Text messages and other messaging apps. Texting and driving is a well-known safety faux pas. Unfortunately, drivers still text and drive or use other messaging apps while behind the wheel. Open messaging apps from the time of the accident can subsequently be used for evidence purposes.
  • GPS. If your GPS was on at the time of the vehicle collision, opposing counsel might claim you were looking at directions or your car dashboard instead of the road, traffic, and the surrounding cars.
  • Music or podcasts. It is not uncommon for drivers to listen to music or podcasts while they drive. Unfortunately, music and podcast app usage can be turned into evidence against you, citing you were distracted behind the wheel.
  • Games. Many parents give their phones to their small children during car rides to keep them busy with gaming apps, such as assorted puzzles or word finds. However, if a game app is open at the time of the collision, opposing counsel can cite it as evidence, even if you weren’t using it.
  • Social media apps. Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter are just some of the social media platforms drivers look at during red lights or (dangerously) when they are driving. Open social media apps might be used as evidence in the event of a car accident.

How a Chicago injury lawyer helps if cell phone data is used against you

If the opposing counsel requests your phone data following a car accident, an experienced attorney can help demonstrate you were driving in a safe manner when the collision happened. For example, say you were listening to a podcast at the time of the accident. The podcast was on speaker, allowing you to keep your eyes on the road and remain aware of nearby vehicles and pedestrians.

Despite following the rules of the road, your car was hit by another driver who was speeding in a residential neighborhood and did not have enough time to slow down, resulting in a rear-end collision. While you might have been listening to a podcast when the accident took place, your lawyer argues that you were not looking at your phone and instead listening to the podcast on speaker. As a result, it has no bearing on the accident.

Another example could involve your child. Say your little one was playing a game on your phone when you were suddenly hit by another car. The child was absorbed with the game in the back seat, meaning you had no contact with the device at the time of the accident. So while a gaming app was in use, it is not applicable to the incident, which your lawyer will emphasize.

How the attorney proves that cell phone data is not applicable to the car accident case naturally varies in light of the incident. Witness statements might be used, such as a pedestrian noting that you were looking at the road and not your phone when the accident transpired. If other parties can corroborate the story, such as additional pedestrians and people looking out of their homes’ windows, you may have a virtually indisputable case.

Vehicle cabin cameras are another way your lawyer can prove that your phone had nothing to do with the accident. A dashcam, for example, can show that you were focused on the road instead of your phone, thus making device data at the time of the incident irrelevant. Photos and videos of the accident provide yet another type of evidence that proves you are not to blame, such as traffic light images capturing your passengers looking at the phone instead of you. Pictures of the phone on the floor in the back of the vehicle can help as well, especially if supporting evidence is available, such as witnesses noticing a passenger using your phone minutes before the collision.

Am I required to furnish cell phone data following a Chicago car accident?

Unless a lawsuit has been filed, you do not have to provide cell phone data after a car accident. Insurance adjusters might request or even demand the data, but have no legal grounds to do so. You can even wait until a court order for the data has been issued after a legal filing, rather than simply handing the information over to opposing counsel. There are also times when phone companies will not provide their clients’ data unless there are court orders.

If a legal claim has been filed, refusing to provide cell phone data can result in costly case delays. To expedite the process, furnish the requested information and work with an experienced lawyer to prove that the data has nothing to do with the accident.

Whether the insurance company or opposing counsel wants to use your cell phone data against you, having a competent lawyer represent your interests is key. Your legal professional will ensure you do not provide more information than is necessary and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Discuss your case with one of the experienced car accident attorneys at Gainsberg Injury and Accident Lawyers today. Based in Chicago and serving all of Cook County, we strive to exceed our clients’ expectations. Call our office or submit our contact form to schedule a free consultation.