Using Personal Data Tracking To Investigate Claims!
A personal injury claimant says he can't work and has lost $100,000 a year in wages. Is this true? How can you find out? Interrogatories, depositions and medical examinations might provide some answers. Surveillance is expensive and no guarantee. You can check out social media to see what he's doing or saying. But now there's another way; See if they are using a self-tracking device, such as a Fitbit, and access the data to investigate the claim.
Fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, blood sugar monitors, GPS tracking devices and other wearable devices collect and store huge amounts of potentially crucial information. A claimant's personal data from one of these devices may well turn out to be the smoking gun that answers the ultimate question in the claim.
Your success in this process depends upon creativity, diligence and luck in moving through the following main steps. First determine whether a device that tracks relevant information exists and, if so, preserve the data. Second, acquire the data while maintaining a chain of custody so the information can be authenticated and admissible. Third, analyze the information to assess its impact on the important facts in dispute and decide how to use it in negotiation and trial. Fourth, anticipate roadblocks along the way, such as privacy concerns.
The Rise Of Wearable Tech
Wearable technology and self-tracking devices have become ubiquitous for people of all ages. The American College of Sports Medicine recently named "wearable technology" the number one fitness trend for 2016. The market for these devices is expected to hit $5 BILLION this year. People now use their smartphones to track and analyze a virtually limitless range of things including steps taken, calories consumed, sleep patterns, heart rate and blood sugar levels.
These self-tracking activities are generally guided by the principle that "if you can measure it, you can change it." This information is analogous to keeping a daily weight chart or even writing a personal diary. The collection and storage of information makes it available for all sorts of potential uses, including discovery in a claim or civil action. Claims professionals who are aware that such data exists can use the investigation and discovery procedures currently in place to obtain the data. To access and interpret that data, you will likely need the assistance of an outside vendor or an in-house IT department, similar to the process used to access and preserve other forms of electronic discovery.
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