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Fitness Trackers- The Future of Personal Injury Evidence


In a Michigan auto accident, in order to recover for noneconomic or “pain and suffering” damages, an injured party (or their family) has to show that he or she suffered a “threshold injury” including death, permanent serious disfigurement, or a serious impairment of body function.   The third type of threshold injury; the “serious impairment” is defined as “an objectively manifested impairment of an important body function that affects the injured party’s ability to lead his or her normal life” as they did before the auto accident.

Hard Data

In the courtroom, the plaintiff, or injured party, has the burden of proving this objective injury, while the defense (often an insurance company) tries to minimize injuries. Plaintiffs’ attorneys rely on medical records and the eyewitness and medical testimony of doctors, friends, family and coworkers to prove that someone was injured and that the injuries affect the person’s life, for example: they can’t do their job, their quality of life has changed or their activity level has changed.  These days, many people are wearing this objective data right on their wrists.

A law firm in Canada was one of the first to use activity data from a “fitbit” to show the effects of an automobile accident on a client’s life last fall.  The young women injured in the accident was a personal trainer who led an active lifestyle prior to the accident. Her lawyers used a fitbit after the accident to show that her activity levels are below a baseline for someone of her age and profession. Her lawyer said, “We’ve always had to rely on clinical interpretation…now we’re looking at longer periods of time through the course of a day, and we have hard data…we’re expecting the results to show that her activity level is less and compromised as a result of her injury.”

New Frontier of Evidence

In this case, fitness trackers hadn’t been invented at the time of the accident. Today, this type of data may be useful for a before and after comparison. Fitness trackers are getting more and more high-tech, tracking heart rate and even location through GPS. This could open the door to wearable fitness trackers to be used in all types of cases, even criminal cases.  Use of this data will probably require experts to interpret and to comment on the strengths and weaknesses of such data.

One Canadian lawyer called fitness trackers the “black box” for the human body. The use of fitness trackers in the courtroom is just part of the ongoing technology trend. For example, Facebook, LinkedIn or other social media data is often used by both plaintiff and defense attorneys to prove or disprove a case.  Plaintiffs and Defendants alike will now have more access to even more electronic data to prove their side of the case.


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    […] hiring them. Asking these questions can help you make a good decision and get positive results. The future of personal injury evidence and why it is VERY IMPORTANT to choose a good lawyer is […]

  2. Linda Thomas says:
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    It is really amazing. People aren’t even thinking about this when they wear those things. They are basically handing over all of that personal information.