Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed After Accident on Double-Decker Tour Bus

wrongful death lawsuit

Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Double-Decker Tour Bus Company

wrongful death lawsuitAfter a teenager died from striking his head on a freeway overpass while on a tour in an open-air double-decker tour bus, his parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the tour bus company.

Matthew and Amy Zisette are the parents of victim Mason G. Zisette. The couple filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday, January 20th, alleging that Starline Tours of Hollywood Inc., the bus driver Jose Barajas Curiel and New Flyer Industries Canada ULC, the manufacturer of the 2000 model bus, failed to warn passengers of potential dangers when passing under overpasses or bridges, and committed serious negligence when allowing tour bus passengers to sit on the top deck.

The incident occurred on July 10th, 2014. The 16-year-old victim reportedly attended a “Sweet 16” party with some friends, who then decided to take a 4-hour sight-seeing tour around the South Bay, focusing on Los Angeles and Hollywood. Mason was a 6 foot, 2-inch varsity tennis player about to enter his junior year at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach.

On the tour’s return trip, the driver took a freeway from Sunset Boulevard and began driving at 60 miles per hour. Mason and some friends were on the upper deck, which was open to the air, admiring the sunset around 7:25 PM when 14-foot tall bus passed under a 15-foot-and-1-inch tall Arbor Vitae Street overpass near San Diego Freeway. The clearance, according to the lawsuit, does not allow passengers on the top deck to safely pass under the overpass, and the tour bus manufacturer, driver, and tour bus company all failed to monitor the passengers, and failed to warn of such a potential danger when passengers signed up for the tour and sat on the top deck.

“This recipe for disaster resulted in the back of Mason’s head impacting the … overpass in Inglewood near LAX,” the suit states. “Mason suffered a traumatic brain injury, fell motionless on the bus floor, never to wake again.”

The teenager died 2 days later, on July 12th.

The wrongful death lawsuit states that Starline Tours has “long been on notice of the risk of instant death presented by these double-decker buses. Despite this notice, (Starline) continues to needlessly and recklessly … transport the public on these double-decker buses.”

Mason’s family seeks unspecified damages in their wrongful death lawsuit.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with A South Carolina Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The unexpected loss of a loved is a very painful experience.  While mourning their loss, surviving family members are often with mounting medical bills, the loss of an income, and sudden expenses such as hospital bills and funeral costs.

If a loved one dies as a result of the negligence, reckless, or intentional conduct of another, you may be entitled to file a South Carolina wrongful death lawsuit. A SC wrongful death lawsuit asserts a claim against a person who can be held legally responsible for a death.  Surviving family members in a wrongful death lawsuit may be entitled to damages; money that can help with the expenses caused by the loss of their loved one.

You do not have to face the emotional and financial pain of a loved one’s wrongful death alone. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed through no fault of your own, contact the South Carolina wrongful death attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, LLC today for a free, no-cost consultation today. 803.252.4800

App Solutions Offered for Distracted Driving

distracted driving

Some Apps Offer Solutions to Prevent Distracted Driving

distracted drivingState Farm recently released information from its distracted driving survey, which found that fewer people talk on the phone while driving, but the advent of smartphone technology has led many drivers to read, text, Tweet, and chat message while driving.

A writer for TechCrunch laments the “Pavlovian response” drivers have to their smartphones. She wrote that she has deal-finding apps downloaded to her iPhone, and they consistently make noise when she drives past stores and malls. She suggested built-in apps on the phone that would automatically silence app and text alert noises, even if the user forgets to put the phone on silent. Some third-party phone apps already discourage distracted driving by disabling texting or count the number of times you text while driving – which is illegal in most states.

The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis recently looked at distracted driving data and found that 1.6 billion vehicle accidents per year were the result of texting or messaging while driving. These accidents kill 11 teenagers per day, according to the research, and are as dangerous as driving after consuming four beers. The number of deaths caused by distracted driving from mobile phone use is higher than the number of deaths caused by running red lights. Worst of all, distracted driving is completely preventable – but drivers have to want to stop, so companies find they might need encouragement.

Automobile manufacturers are also looking at ways to prevent distracted driving. Many of these same companies have begun to build in touch screens and wireless connections so that the driver can hook their phone into their car, and talk or access apps while on the go. One automotive manufacturer, Ford, has recognized that this technology boom can encourage distracted driving even further, and the company says it has now partnered with mobile app developer Life360 to build in not just the GPS feature of the original app – which allows friends and family to track each other based on the phone’s GPS signal – but also to develop a “Driving Mode” for the vehicle version, which would text all the driver’s contacts when the car is on and inform them not to text while the vehicle is in motion. When the driver arrives at their destination and parks the car, the app would alert friends and family that the driver is available again – hopefully preventing the bemoaned Pavlovian response to phone noises by asking for community support against distracted driving.

At least 44 states have, so far, passed some form of distracted driving legislation. This year, South Carolina passed a statewide ban on texting and driving, although other forms of distracted driving are legal.

The Strom Law Firm Helps Those Injured by Distracted Drivers

If you have been injured by a distracted driver, the South Carolina distracted driving accident attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. will fight for fair compensation for your injuries. Our South Carolina car accident lawyers are prepared to fight for compensation in the courtroom and will defend your right to compensation for your past and future medical bills, lost wages and future earnings, your pain and suffering, and, in the event of a fatal car accident, even wrongful death. Our attorneys offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your personal injury case for distracted driving, so contact us today. 803.252.4800.

Target Zero Campaign Focuses on DUI and Traffic Fatalities

Target Zero Campaign Aims to Prevent Traffic Fatalities this New Years

Traffic FatalitiesEvery year, the holiday season, stretching from Thanksgiving to New Years, corresponds with a rise in traffic fatalities. Many people drive to visit family and friends for various holiday festivities, and the stress of driving can lead to car accidents. And holiday festivities often involve drinking alcohol, so many people make the mistake of driving home after a few beers or glasses of wine, and at the very least, are arrested on DUI charges; at worst, they cause a deadly accident.

This year, traffic fatalities and accidents in South Carolina have gone up again, after finally declining in 2013. Last year, there were 762 traffic fatalities, which was a 30-year low for the state. However, this year, that number has jumped to 806 due almost entirely to the holiday traffic rush.

South Carolina police will be involved in the Target Zero campaign – a program which runs all year, but which becomes the focus for many officers during the holidays.

“Through Target Zero we go around asking people how many fatalities do you want in your family? How many people do you want to know to be killed in the state of South Carolina?” Senior Trooper Hannah Wimberly explained.

“When you put it into reality there’s always gonna be some type of fatal collision of course throughout the state. But when it’s in your family or it’s somebody you know, it always hits home,” Wimberly said.

“Driving under the influence still contributes to almost half of the fatalities,” Lance Cpl. Judd Jones said. “We want to start 2015 on a positive note. Target Zero is our goal.”

South Carolina recently passed legislation to ticket drivers who text and drive, so Target Zero will focus not only on drunk drivers, but on distracted drivers as well. Studies show that distracted driving can be just as fatal as drunk driving.

“We just ask that you find some other way home so you don’t go out and kill someone or yourself,” Wimberly said.

“We made tremendous strides in reducing the number of highway fatalities last year,” SCDPS Director Leroy Smith said. “Unfortunately, motorists are still not heeding the warnings about the dangers of drinking and driving. We want to finish out the year with zero traffic fatalities, and removing drunk drivers from our roadways is a major step toward that goal.”

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Wrongful Death Lawsuits from Traffic Fatalities

Whether the distraction is eating, putting on makeup, talking on a cellphone, or even just daydreaming, distracted driving can lead to an accident, causing serious personal injury or even death. If you have been injured by an accident caused by traffic safety violations such as drunk or distracted driving, the South Carolina accident attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. will fight for fair compensation for your injuries. Our South Carolina car accident lawyers are prepared to fight for compensation in the courtroom and will defend your right to compensation for your past and future medical bills, lost wages and future earnings, your pain and suffering, and, in the event of a fatal car accident, even wrongful death. Contact us today for a free consultation. 803.252.4800.

Uber Driver Faces Criminal Charges Tied to Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Suit

personal injury and wrongful death

Criminal Charges Filed against Uber Driver Related to Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Claim

personal injury and wrongful deathIn the continuation of one wrongful death lawsuit, an Uber driver in San Francisco has been charged with vehicular manslaughter after hitting a 6-year-old girl at a crosswalk last New Years’ while checking the Uber mobile app.

Syed Muzzafar was charged with vehicular manslaughter on Monday, December 29th. On New Year’s Day this year, Muzzafar was reportedly checking the Uber mobile app to pick up a fare when he struck several members of the Liu family as they were crossing at a crosswalk. He injured two, and killed Sophia Liu, 6 years old. Uber now faces a wrongful death lawsuit from the family as well.  Uber maintains that Muzzafar was actually off-duty at the time of teh accident, meaning that the company denies liability for the wrongful death accident. The company also maintains that it is against employment policy for drivers to check the mobile app while driving, because that can lead to dangerous distracted driving accidents.

“The last thing I saw before the Uber driver killed my little girl, and forever changed my life, was him looking down at his phone,” Huan Kuang, the girl’s mother, is quoted as saying in a statement issued by her attorney on Tuesday. “The driver is a man who was working to feed his family and he did wrong, but Uber is the one who makes the drivers look at their phones as part of the way they do business. Uber is just as responsible as Muzzafar, but they say they are not.”

“The design and use of these mobile applications requires drivers to violate the law as they have just seconds to respond to instant messages from Uber or they will lose the fare and receive negative ratings and possible termination of their driver status,” the Liu family’s attorney said in a statement.

Uber has been accused not only of implicitly encouraging distracted driving, which can lead to personal injury and wrongful deaths, but of also failing to screen drivers according to state standards. This can also lead to serious injuries for passengers, including a case involving the rape of a 22-year-old woman.

In Chicago, an unidentified 22-year-old woman said she used the Uber mobile service to catch a ride in November, after a party with coworkers. She was picked up by driver Maxime Fohounhedo, who asked her about 20 minutes later to sit in the front seat with him as he was unfamiliar with the area. Then, he assaulted her in the vehicle and she blacked out; later, she woke up later in an unfamiliar apartment with him on top of her. Fohounhedo has been criminally charged with sexual assault and criminal sexual abuse. However, he is only the latest in a string of accusations against Uber drivers, claiming assault and rape.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases

Although many of the people we represent in these cases are from right here in South Carolina, our lawyers routinely take clients from throughout the Southeastern U.S. and, in certain types of product liability or pharmaceutical cases, from across the country as well. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed through no fault of your own, you may have a personal injury or wrongful death case. Contact the South Carolina wrongful death attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, LLC today for a free, no-cost consultation today. 803.252.4800

South Carolina Auto Related Accident Fatalities Increase in 2014

Accident Fatalities

South Carolina Auto Accident Fatalities on the Rise

Accident FatalitiesIf you spent any time this past weekend on I-95 or I-26, you witnessed first hand the impact that holiday travel can have upon our roads.  Whether simply due to winter weather, holiday party traffic, or distracted driving, increased traffic on South Carolina roadways brings an the increased risk of an accident which can lead to South Carolina Auto Accident Fatalities.

During the holiday season, the likelihood for a fatal South Carolina automobile collision increases. In fact to date, the number of South Carolina auto accident fatalities increased from 2013.  Of the 545 South Carolina motor vehicle accident fatalities, approximately half, 258, were not wearing a seat belt.

During this holiday season (as with the rest of the year), it is extremely important that you drive with care for yourself, your occupants, fellow motorists, and pedestrians on the road. To minimize the chances of car accidents in South Carolina remember to:

  • designate a driver;
  • keep your vehicle well maintained;
  • follow the laws of the road;
  • avoid distractions (i.e.: texting, adjusting the radio or DVD player, bending down to pick up something that fell, eating, applying makeup, etc.).
  • always wear a seatbelt.

The Strom Law Firm can help you or a loved one if you have been in an automobile accident. Lamentably, such collisions are all too common, and even if the accident is a fender-bender, passengers can sustain injuries that can impact them for months, years, or a lifetime. A simple accident, such as the one in Sumter, can ultimately result in the death of an individual who was loved by friends and family. Please don’t wait to contact the SC Accident Attorneys at Strom Law Firm for a free, confidential consultation to discuss the facts of your case. (803) 252-4800.

SC Texting and Driving Law In Full Force

SC Texting and Driving Law

Warning Period of SC Texting and Driving Law is Over

SC Texting and Driving LawThis past June, South Carolina lawmakers passed a bill banning texting and driving. To inform drivers that the practice is now illegal, law enforcement spent several months pulling drivers over and issuing warnings about typing on a mobile phone or tablet while driving a moving vehicle. Now, however, the grace period has ended and the SC texting and driving law is in full effect.

Reportedly, police have issued 278 warnings about SC texting and driving laws in the last 6 months.

The first time an officer catches a driver texting and driving, the fine will be $25. Subsequent offenses will lead to a $50 fine. No points will be taken off the driver’s license for texting and driving. Many safety advocates want tougher anti-texting and driving laws in the state.

“I think it’s a good first step, but everything needs to be modified. I think $25 is nothing, that’s like going to McDonald’s with your family,” said Mark Conley, the owner of Beach Driving School, LLC. Many states that ban texting and driving fine drivers $100-$200 and remove points from the driver’s license.

The Centers for Disease Control state that 9 people are killed every day in the US because of a distracted driver, and the South Carolina Department of Public Safety says that 46 people have already been killed as a result of distracted driving in 2014 in South Carolina alone. While many things can distract drivers, such as talking on the phone or changing a radio station, texting and driving is becoming one of the most common offenses, despite legislation in most states that makes the practice illegal.

Camden, SC passed one of the first SC texting and driving laws in the state. City of Camden Police Chief Joe Floyd says that the ordinance helped cut down on traffic accidents in the city.

“What we saw was a tremendous change, as far as compliance with our statute,” Floyd said. “We’ve been very happy with the effects of it.”

Distracted Driving, Including Texting and Driving, in South Carolina

Distracted driving includes:

  • talking on a cell phone
  • eating and drinking
  • grooming or putting on makeup
  • reading books, newspapers, or even a map
  • using a PDA or navigation system
  • playing with the radio, a CD or an iPod
  • texting or writing emails
  • checking social media

It’s a common occurrence to see distracted driving while cruising down South Carolina roads and interstates.  Whether the distraction is eating, putting on makeup, talking on a cellphone, or even just daydreaming, the effects of distracted driving can lead to an accident, resulting in life altering and even deadly consequences.

The Strom Law Firm Helps Those Injured by Distracted Drivers, Including Texting and Driving

If you have been injured by a distracted driver, the South Carolina accident attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. will fight for fair compensation for your injuries. Our South Carolina car accident lawyers are prepared to fight for compensation in the courtroom and will defend your right to compensation for your past and future medical bills, lost wages and future earnings, your pain and suffering, and, in the event of a fatal car accident, even wrongful death. Our attorneys offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your personal injury case for distracted driving, so contact us today. 803.252.4800.

Senator Calls for End to Dangerous “Chameleon Carrier” Trucking Companies

Chameleon Carrier

Senator Calls for Closing Trucking Company Loophole that Creates Chameleon Carrier Companies

Chameleon CarrierA US Senator is campaigning against “chameleon carrier” trucking companies, which use a federal loophole to avoid paying fines by dissolving and reapplying for a new trucking license.

New York Senator Charles Schumer recently sent a concerned letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety administration expressing his concern over the loophole, because it allowed trucking companies to avoid liability.

“It is critical that a better system be developed when it comes to screening potential ‘chameleon carriers’ and unsafe drivers who shouldn’t be on the roads,” Schumer said. “While most companies that receive violations and citations quickly take steps to improve their safety operations, some carriers are able to evade oversight by simply closing down and re-emerging with a new name.”

“Rather than pay the fine or face repercussions, some (trucking companies) dissolve and reapply for permitting under a different name,” Schumer continued. “They’re called chameleon carriers. Same owners, same employees, same vehicles, just a different name.”

Schumer says that there are at least 500 such companies in New York State alone, including one trucking company that evaded liability for a fatal accident in Ithaca earlier this year. In his letter, Schumer informed the FMCSA that a simple solution would be to just look more closely at the applications.

“They should look beyond the name and see who’s behind it,” Schumer said. “If it’s the same drivers, if it’s the same trucks, if it’s the same owners in any way, they should look carefully and could prevent them from getting a new license.”

FMCSA spokesperson Marissa Padilla said the federal trucking company safety agency agrees with Senator Schumer, and has already taken some aggressive steps to better vet carriers that apply for new licenses. The agency has also upped fines for carriers that attempt to dodge liability by changing their names. In addition, the FMCSA has passed new regulation this year that would shut down trucking companies that repeatedly violated this rule.

“We appreciate Sen. Schumer’s support of our aggressive efforts to combat chameleon carriers and Acting Administrator Darling will respond to him directly on the new rules and policies we are taking to keep these unsafe companies off the road,” the FMCSA responded.

Trucking Companies and Trucking Accidents Can Cause Serious Injury and Wrongful Death

Accidents involving heavy commercial vehicles such as semi tractor trailers, flatbed or tanker trucks, buses, or construction accidents can often result in a serious injury or death.

Many times truck drivers cannot see in certain blind spots around their large 18 wheeler.  You will also find that many truck drivers do not follow the speed limits and rules of the road.  They are pressured by deadlines and DOT regulations are often racing to get to their destination.

Tractor trailer accidents can also occur as the result of driver fatigue.  Drivers may get distracted or even fall asleep at the wheel, leaving them unable to avoid a trucking accident. Injuries sustained in these types of accidents can be disabling. Accidents involving heavy commercial vehicles can cause:

  • traumatic brain injury,
  • paralysis,
  • severe disability, and
  • even death.

The Strom Law Firm, LLC can help you if you have been injured in a trucking accident. With careful analysis and investigation we will look at critical factors including:

  • maintenance and equipment records for the truck;
  • whether the truck load was appropriate, properly sized and within the weight limit;
  • Weather, road, and grade conditions;
  • whether the driver was operating within DOT regulations.

If you or a loved one has been such a victim, contact the Strom Law Firm, LLC trucking accident lawyers. Whether you were injured in a bus accident, tractor trailer accident, or any other commercial vehicle accident, we can help. 803.252.4800

Trucking Companies Must Help Stop Distracted Driving

distracted driving

Distracted Driving is a Huge Safety Problem for Trucking Companies

distracted drivingDistracted driving is becoming one of the biggest road safety hazards in the United States. Numerous studies have shown that modern technology poses a huge temptation to drivers – hands-free phones, smart watches or other wearable tech, Bluetooth headsets, and even simple texting and driving. One study, conducted by AT&T, showed that three-quarters of drivers chose to text and drive, regardless of the dangers. Another recent study showed that distracted driving, especially texting and driving, is just as deadly as driving under the influence (DUI).

But too many drivers succumb to the temptation, including truck drivers – and that becomes a liability for trucking companies.

“What we don’t want is that truck driver holding that phone up to his ear,” said Michael J. Riley, president of the Motor Transport Association of CT. “That’s distracted driving. That’s dangerous.”

Trucking companies are some of the most vocal advocates for tougher distracted driving laws. Currently, each state varies in its laws and penalties, although most states now have laws against texting and driving.

“We have a lot of stake here,” said Riley. “There’s a moral commitment to doing things safely, there’s an economic component to it all, and we’re proud of what we do and we don’t want to do it in a way that jeopardizes anybody’s safety.”

Enforcement of distracted driving laws can be difficult, due to the prevalence of the harmful practice. One way that states combat the problem is to set up checkpoints, cameras, and police cruisers to catch those breaking the law, especially truck drivers.

“There are studies that say the more proactive we are about enforcing it, the greater it does reduce it,” said Lt. Donald Bridge, a Connecticut DMV Inspector. “The trucks provide a higher platform for the driver so it’s harder to see in there, so we have to take vantage points where we’re up above that and looking down into the cabs.”

“As traffic approaches, we’re looking at everything,” Sgt. Aaron Reimer of the Ohio State Patrol said.

However, Sgt. Reimer says there’s a larger problem with issuing tickets: “The drivers aren’t taking it seriously enough.”

Federal law says that talking on a cell phone is illegal for truck drivers, because it not only causes distracted driving, but the driver takes one hand off the wheel, which means he or she could lose control of the truck. However, because federal law is so strict against truck drivers, thousands of distracted driving accidents involving commercial trucks are actually caused by the other driver.

“Two-thirds of accidents involving commercial vehicles are actually caused by a vehicle other than the commercial vehicle,” Bill Graves with the American Trucking Association said. In Ohio in 2013, there were 10,000 commercial trucks on the roads, and 2,000 distracted driving accidents involving the trucks.

Still, distracted driving catches up to truck drivers too often. “We found that truck drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in one of these safety critical events compared to when they weren’t texting,” said Jeff Hickman, a researcher with Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

Trucking Accidents Can Cause Serious Injury and Wrongful Death

If you or a loved one has been such a victim, contact the Strom Law Firm, LLC South Carolina trucking accident lawyers. Whether you were injured in a bus accident, tractor trailer accident, or any other commercial vehicle accident, we can help. Contact us today at 803.252.4800.

Tracy Morgan Fighting Traumatic Brain Injury After Car Accident

traumatic brain injury

Tracy Morgan May Not Be The Same Due to Traumatic Brain Injury Following Car Accident

traumatic brain injuryAttorney for comedian Tracy Morgan says his client is struggling to recover from a traumatic brain injury after his car accident involving a tractor trailer over the summer, and he may never be the same again.

Five months after the car accident with a tractor trailer working for Walmart, star of hit comedy series “30 Rock” may not have suffered just a broken nose, leg, and ribs, but also a traumatic brain injury.

The tractor trailer accident also killed one of Morgan’s friends and fellow comedian James McNair, who performed under the name Jimmy Mack.

“Mr. Morgan is a fighter,” Benedict Morelli, Morgan’s attorney, said in an interview. “He’s fighting to get better. And if there’s a chance for him to be back to the Tracy Morgan he once was, he’s going to try to do that. But we just don’t know because of the severity of the injuries that he sustained and the fact that he had such a severe brain injury.”

About 1 AM on Saturday, June 7th, Tracy Morgan’s limo van was hit by Roper’s truck on the New Jersey Turnpike. The collision killed one of Morgan’s fellow comedian passengers, James McNair, who performed under the name Jimmy Mack. Reportedly, 35-year-old truck driver Kevin Roper had been awake for 24 consecutive hours before causing the tractor trailer accident.

After Tracy Morgan filed a personal injury lawsuit against Walmart for negligence on the part of their employee, the company stated in September that the lawsuit was unfounded.

“Upon information and belief, plaintiffs’ injuries, if any, were caused, in whole or in part, by plaintiffs’ failure to properly wear an appropriate available seat belt restraint device,” Walmart’s court papers said.

On Tuesday, November 18th, Morelli and attorneys for Walmart met for a scheduling conference. Morelli stated the extent of Morgan’s injuries, including signs of what could be a traumatic brain injury, which could mean the comedian would never fully recover, continue his popular career, and would need a lifetime of medical attention.

“When you have a traumatic brain injury, it takes a very long time to find out how you’re going to do and how much you’re going to recover,” Morelli said. “So that’s where he is. He’s still fighting and trying to live his life at the same time and trying to get better, and he’s just not better. We’re hoping and praying to get him back to where he was.”

The Strom Law Firm Can Help Traumatic Brain Injury Victims

Traumatic brain injuries occur when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue.

Traumatic brain injury may be the result of a:

For many victims, a traumatic brain injury is not immediately noticeable. A great amount of force does not need to be applied to sustain a head injury.

If you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic brain injury as the result of an accident, defective product, or negligence, the Strom Law Firm can help. We understand the emotional and financial impact of serious personal injuries. Our firm offers free consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to contact us. 803.252.4800.

Personal Injury Case Involves FitBit Data for First Time

Wearable Tech like FitBit Could Revolutionize Personal Injury Case Discovery

FitBitA law firm in Calgary, Alberta has announced that it will use information collected by the popular wearable tech device FitBit as part of the discovery process for a personal injury case involving a car accident.

Wearable technology like FitBit is used to track fitness information and location, using heart-rate monitors, calorie trackers, and GPS information. These types of fitness trackers are normally used by the population to track positive fitness changes. However, the Canadian law firm says it will use the FitBit to track a downward trend in their client’s overall health.

The McLeod law firm represents a personal injury case from a young woman who was, prior to her car accident, a personal trainer. Although her accident occurred before FitBits were widely used and affordable, attorneys at the firm believe they can, based on her profession, state that she was in better general health than the overall population. They plan to measure her current physical health with a FitBit and submit the evidence to the court in her personal injury case.

“Till now we’ve always had to rely on clinical interpretation,” Muller says from his office in Calgary. “Now we’re looking at longer periods of time though 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.”

“Wearables are yet another example of how technology may be a gold mine of potentially relevant [electronically stored information] for use in litigation,” says legal expert Neda Shakoori. “Take, for example, a personal injury case where a plaintiff is claiming the injuries he sustained in an automobile accident prevent him from participating in physical activities, such as running. Suppose further that the plaintiff has worn a fitness tracking device which has been recording every one of his five-mile runs during the past three months. The data generated by the plaintiff’s wearable device may be discovered in litigation and, as a result, completely discredit plaintiff’s case for damages resulting from the accident.”

Previous court cases, both personal injury and criminal, have already laid a foundation to acquire digital information from platforms like Facebook to track a suspect or plaintiff’s whereabouts, opinions, mood, and health claims. Using wearable devices can show clearly to a court physical changes over time, and imply – though not prove – the extent of the personal injury.

“There is a huge digital footprint generated by these device,” writes Matthew Pearn on Claims Canada. “Weight loss, weight gain, heart rate, blood pressure, diet, exercise and mood can be diarized by users to help keep track of their health. Certain companies have even launched social networking sites to allow their customers to share fitness goals and their progress with friends and strangers alike.”

The Strom Law Firm Defends Victims of Car Accident Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed because of an accident, whether it was caused by distracted driving or DUI, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. The sooner you hire one of our South Carolina accident lawyers, the sooner we will be able to investigate your case and the stronger your case will be. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to call us. 803.252.4800