As with any other motor vehicle wreck claim, an injured person must provide substantial evidence in Chattanooga texting while driving accident cases to reveal that the defendant driver was using their mobile device at the time of the crash. This evidence is key to proving a defendant driver was negligent and that their negligence directly led to an accident resulting in a plaintiff’s injuries. Once negligence is established, a committed texting while driving collision attorney could hold an at-fault driver liable for the full-extent of an injured person’s damages.
Early on in representation, a proactive personal injury attorney will send a spoliation letter to any defendant parties involved in the crash to preserve information, including cell phone data at the time of the accident. Ensuring that this data is preserved will set the stage to acquire the information should litigation become necessary during the life of the case.
Once litigation proceeds, attorneys exchange written questions that ask involved parties to recount information related to a collision, including describing their conduct at and around the time of the accident and whether or not they were engaged with a mobile device—whether through hands free conduct or, in violation of Tennessee law, by having direct contact with their mobile device.
Individuals who deny that they were using their mobile device may still be asked about it during the course of their deposition—that goes for both the plaintiff and defendant(s). All parties involved will be required to talk about their behavior in the driving time leading up to the crash.
Additionally, following a request for the production of information, legal professionals may exchange images of cell phone data to determine how drivers were engaged with their phones, if at all, in the time leading up to an accident.
Experienced digital experts will help to unlock the secrets of a cell phone that can shed a tremendous amount of light on the causes of an accident. Information obtained from cell phones usually provide a jury with a clear perspective as to what may have happened in the moments before impact.
Well-versed injury attorneys may also seek assistance from forensic analysis experts when examining evidence in certain cases. Specifically in crashes resulting in serious bodily injury, these experts help reveal the underlying causes of a collision and paint a picture for juries and insurance adjusters about the clear value of the injuries suffered by a plaintiff.
In short, no. Following a motor vehicle collision, the police, insurance companies, and attorneys may seek cell phone records or data from all parties involved in the crash, though there are certain procedures that must be followed.
Law enforcement that believes a crime has been committed may seek a search warrant from a magistrate judge in Tennessee. An officer submits an affidavit as to why they believe there is probable cause, the crime committed, and what information they are seeking to support the investigation of that criminal activity—including information that may be held in the cell phone.
It is rare for the police to utilize criminal search warrants to obtain cell phone data in the majority of auto collision cases, though, in accidents involving serious injuries or deaths, they will almost certainly seek to obtain information from cell phone providers through any methods necessary.
Law enforcement may also obtain freely accessible data from the airbag control module in the vehicle to give them a perspective on vehicle speeds immediately prior to impact. They could then compare that information with a driver’s cell phone data to determine if they were utilizing their mobile device in the moments leading up to the accident.
Insurance companies fall under a different set of laws than the police. They do not have the ability to obtain search warrants in the aftermath of the accident. Insurance defense lawyers and plaintiff’s lawyers do however have the ability during the course of litigation to subpoena documents from parties involved, including cell phone hard drives. Seasoned legal professionals could review the data available to retrieve any information that may be admissible evidence in the case at hand.
Too often, by the time a case enters litigation, the data on a party’s cell phone is lost or destroyed whether because the phone itself has been lost or destroyed or its data has been overwritten from the time of the accident. That is why it is crucial for an injured party to retain an attorney at soon as possible following an accident. A well-practiced lawyer could send a letter instructing a defendant to preserve their cell phone information—including an image of their cell phone immediately in the aftermath of the case. This letter should contain detailed instructions and how to preserve that information and otherwise prepare it to be used potentially later during litigation and trial.
Individuals who fail to comply with the instructions containing the spoliation letter are likely subject to sanctions from the trial court for going to compliant with the request. This could result in penalties or even the finding of liability automatically for failing to preserve necessary evidence.
Reaching out to a legal professional as soon as possible after suffering damages in an auto collision caused by illegal phone usage is critical. A dedicated injury lawyer could help preserve evidence in Chattanooga texting while driving accident cases that is essential to holding a negligent driver accountable for their actions. Call now to speak with a qualified attorney at our firm.