Wearable activity and fitness trackers, such as Fitbit and Apple Watch, have become daily accessories for many people in the United States and worldwide. In fact, recent sales statistics show that more than 78 million wearable fitness and activity trackers were sold worldwide in 2015, and that number is expected to increase to more than 102 million sales through the end of 2016. Why is this new fitness trend important in personal injury claims?
Generally speaking, the four essential elements of negligence and hence most personal injury claims are:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty of care
- Causation of injury
In many personal injury claims, quantifying the last element of monetary damages proves to be the most difficult, as damages can be difficult to measure and put into a dollar amount. However, information obtained and downloaded from wearable activity and fitness trackers could prove helpful in establishing a monetary amount for damages.
Wearable activity and fitness devices track activity, exercise, food, weight, and sleep by monitoring a user’s steps, distance traveled, sleep, and heart rate, among other things. This information can be especially helpful in proving a person’s physical and mental state after an injury. Data from a wearable activity and fitness tracker showing that an injured person is taking fewer steps or traveling a shorter distance after an automobile accident, for example, could be introduced to show how an injured person’s daily activities are limited due to his or her physical injuries.
Furthermore, evidence of an elevated heart rate or a decrease in sleep could be introduced as proof of pain resulting from the physical injuries or even as evidence of anxiety or emotional distress stemming from the accident itself. For example, an injured woman in a Canadian case used data from her fitness device to prove damages by showing that her activity level dropped after her injury and was significantly lower than normal for someone of her age and health.
The downside is that this same data could potentially be used against a plaintiff in a personal injury action. An insurance company could obtain the data from one of these devices and use it to disprove an injured party’s claims of emotional distress, anxiety, and/or physical limitations if the data indicates no decrease in activity or sleep or no increase in heart rate.
That, of course, raises the issue of privacy and the accessibility of the data from wearable activity and fitness trackers. An injured person who wears one of these fitness trackers can access the data directly from the device itself, or it can often be downloaded through a related application on a smartphone. Data from the trackers can also be obtained directly from the device manufacturer as the information stored on wearable fitness and activity trackers is not always considered to be private medical information protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
If you have been injured as a result of negligence it is important that you consult with a personal injury attorney to discuss your legal rights and to determine the best ways to establish the elements of your claim, including the element of monetary damages. Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz has represented people in car accident and other personal injury matters for over 25 years. We have also represented families of wrongful death victims. Call our law firm today at 1-800-LAW-4004 to schedule a free consultation with one of our injury lawyers.