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Can cell phone records help establish fault after a distracted driver collision?

On Behalf of | Jan 14, 2022 | motor vehicle accidents

Safety experts consider countless activities to be distractions while behind the wheel. From snacking and personal grooming to taking a sip of water and participating in a text conversation, drivers are constantly tempted by the desire to multitask on a boring commute to class or home from work. Unfortunately, these distractions can ultimately lead to severe collisions with catastrophic injuries.

In a motor vehicle collision, one challenging element is the investigation of liability – who authorities will hold accountable for causing the crash. Since cell phone use is a factor in a significant number of vehicle wrecks, can investigators use phone records to establish fault?

Can this work?

Cell phone information flows seamlessly through towers, satellites, servers and relay stations. Since many plans are reliant on data usage, the carrier codes, indexes and time-stamps communication data. Cell phone companies have insight into when their customers make a phone call, answer a phone call, read a text, send a text or access the internet. The company stores this data in comprehensive logs that they can access to accurately bill their clients.

Even with this data in hand, though, the phone companies will not simply hand over this client information voluntarily. To do so would likely create a backlash centered on the protection of data and the expectation of privacy. However, the company could potentially be ordered to disclose this information if the records might represent potential evidence in legal proceedings. Law enforcement officers often make the case that the cell phone records could be a key factor in establishing liability in a distracted driving-based collision.

The case against a distracted driver who causes a catastrophic or deadly vehicle collision significantly strengthens if the cell phone records show that the driver was on a phone call, was texting or accessing the internet at the time of the crash.