Over the past few years fitness trackers and smart watches like Fitbit and the Apple watch have become a popular medium for tracking health and activity levels. Intended to be worn daily, fitness tracker users are encouraged to wear the devices throughout the entirety of the day so that the device may track a wide variety of data about their user. According to Fitbit, their product can track a user’s activity, exercise, food, weight, and sleep levels. The data collected from these devices can be traceable and users often monitor their statistics long after the information is initially obtained. From this, users are then able to analyze the increase or decrease of their activity levels over time.
However, these fitness trackers are not being used just for counting steps anymore. Recently, the data from these devices has made its way into the courtroom as evidence for both civil and criminal cases. For example, in 2015, Pennsylvania law enforcement officials utilized the data collected by a Fitbit to supplement their suspicion that a woman’s report of sexual assault was false. Prosecutors posit the data collected from the device proved that the woman had been awake and walking around at a time when she had told police she was sleeping. With this information, some came to believe the woman staged the crime scene during this time. The woman now faces three misdemeanor counts for filing a false report, tampering with evidence, and prompting an emergency response.
Fitness tracker information has also been used as evidence in civil suits. For example, in 2014, a personal injury firm in Calgary utilized the activity data collected by a Fitbit to assist in their efforts to show the detrimental physical effects that a car accident had on a young woman. Prior to her car accident, the young woman was a personal trainer leading an active lifestyle. To assist in depicting the decline of the young woman’s activity levels, the lawyers utilized the data collected by her Fitbit to offer proof that the woman’s activity levels fell below that of someone of her same age and profession.
Data from airplanes, trucks and other vehicles and machines has long been utilized in court cases. Of course, data from human beings has also been used in court, however, collection of this data implicates privacy and other concerns. The law will surely develop to suit this new technology and as smart watch technology develops over time, we will likely continue to see the value that comes from a single step.
David Rapoport is the founding and managing partner of Rapoport Law Offices. In his over 31 years as a full time trial attorney, he has won numerous multi-million dollar jury verdicts and settlements in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Mr. Rapoport is a member of the invitation only American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), an association of premier trial attorneys who are dedicated to preserving the right to trial by jury. ABOTA's general mission is "to foster improvement in the ethical and technical standards of practice in the field of advocacy to the end that individual litigants may receive more effective representation and the general public be benefited by more efficient administration of justice consistent with time-tested and traditional principles of litigation." For over 20 years Martindale-Hubbell, through its Peer Review RatingsTM program, has consistently ranked David Rapoport as AV® PreeminentTM, its highest professional rating. This is a testament to Mr. Rapoport's abilities as an attorney and commitment to maintaining the highest ethical standards. Mr. Rapoport has also been selected by Thompson Reuters, another prominent legal publisher, as an Illinois “Super Lawyer” every year since the inception of the Super Lawyer program. Super Lawyer designation is limited to the top 5 percent of lawyers in a state in any given year. Since 1990, David Rapoport has been board certified* in Civil Trial Advocacy by the National Board of Trial Advocacy ("NBTA"), the oldest and largest not-for-profit American Bar Association accredited trial attorney certification program. Attorneys with NBTA certification have proven ability in their field through specialized written examinations and meeting rigorous criteria for trial experience and ethical ratings. Mr. Rapoport has proven his currency and substantial trial experience through NBTA recertification in 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010. David Rapoport has served as a leader of the movement to encourage board certification for trial lawyers for more than twenty years. Currently he is the President of the National Board of Trial Advocacy and its parent organization the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification. He recently explained: "In this era of Wild West style minimally regulated lawyer advertising, it has never been more important for the public to have easy and reliable means of identifying members of the small fraction of practicing attorneys who truly have substantial experience trying cases. Board certification programs help consumers of legal services make more informed choices. Too many lawyers are out there claiming to have substantial trial experience when in truth they have never tried a case. Board certified trial lawyers have proven their substantial trial experience in ways the public can trust." Mr. Rapoport is a member of the President's Club and Leader's Forum of the American Association for Justice and the state trial lawyer associations in Illinois, Wisconsin and Kentucky. He is also a member of the Economic Club of Chicago. * Board certification is not required to practice law in Illinois and the Illinois Supreme Court does not recognize specialties in the practice of law.