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How technology has impacted personal injury law

Technological change has affected industries around the world, with the field of personal injury law being no exception. From the ubiquity of social media to the rise of automated vehicles and big data, personal injury lawyers in Ontario must confront challenges and leverage opportunities that would have been unimaginable to their colleagues 20 years ago.

Benefits of new technology

 In addition to facilitating communication with clients, case research, and organization, cutting-edge technologies are also helping personal injury lawyers establish the truth of their plaintiffs’ claims. In an OTLA Blog post from 2017, contributor Michael Giordano cited an Alberta case in which data from the plaintiff’s Fitbit – a piece of wearable technology that tracks active living metrics – showed a significant reduction in activity following her accident. The data also showed that the plaintiff, previously a personal trainer, was now less active than the average woman of her age and profession. She was awarded damages for pain and suffering.

The insurance industry has also embraced new technologies to the benefit of accident victims. According to Giordano, companies like Switzerland’s Zurich Insurance and Japan’s Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance are using artificial intelligence to evaluate claims, analyze documents, and calculate payouts while reducing necessary work hours.

Potential pitfalls

 The same technology that can serve plaintiffs well in some cases may also harm their credibility in others. For years, defence lawyers have used plaintiffs’ social media activity to call into question the validity of their claims. An Instagram post showing a plaintiff spending time with friends may hinder that plaintiff’s claim of loss of enjoyment of life, for example.

Questions also exist regarding the accuracy of the data mined from Fitbits, Apple Watches, and other wearable technologies. How sincerely can these metrics be trusted in a court of law? Personal injury lawyers who base their clients’ claims on the reliability of these devices may be putting their clients at risk.

As Giordano puts it in his OTLA Blog post: “The legal implications of advancing technology mean that lawyers must utilize their unique set of skills to create innovative arguments that utilize technology while simultaneously accounting for its limitations. Before we vociferously discount technology, we must be aware of the potential it has. We must embrace the benefits it produces, but also be sensitive to its ability to mislead, obfuscate, and injure.”

Contact the personal injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP

 If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, contact Will Davidson LLP today to arrange a consultation with an experienced Ontario personal injury lawyer. Our team can assess your claim and provide guidance as you initiate your legal journey.

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