Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents, and cell phones are one of the main causes of distractions. Merely because a person involved in an accident had a cell phone at the time of the crash, however, does not mean that they negligently caused the collision. Instead, a person seeking cell phone records via discovery in a car accident case must establish that the information they seek is relevant to their claims or defenses, as discussed by a New York court in a ruling recently issued in a car accident case. If you were injured in a collision, you should speak to a Syracuse personal injury lawyer about your potential claims.
History of the Case
It is alleged that the plaintiff’s son was injured when the car he was driving collided with a bus operated by the defendant driver and owned by the defendant school district. Tragically, the plaintiff’s son was left in a vegetative due to the injuries he sustained in the accident. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendants, arguing they were liable for the accident and her son’s ultimate harm.
Reportedly, during discovery, the defendants moved for the production of the son’s cell phone records and information from his phone to discern whether he was using his phone at or before the time of the collision. The court granted the motion to the extent that it sought the son’s cell phone records but denied it to the extent it sought the son’s phone. The defendant appealed.
Discoverable Information in Car Accident Cases
The court reversed the trial court ruling on appeal. The court explained that while cell phones hold people’s private information, New York has a liberal statute that requires full disclosure of all matter that is necessary and material in the prosecution or defense of a claim. The court stated that, as noted by the defendant, the applicable discovery rules do not condition disclosure on proof that the items a party requests actually exist; instead, the request only needs to be sufficiently tailored and reasonably calculated to yield relevant information.
In the subject case, the court found that the defendants met the threshold requirement in that their request was reasonably calculated to result in the disclosure of information that was relevant and necessary, namely whether the son was using his phone at the time of the accident. Thus, the court reversed the trial court ruling.
Speak to an Assertive Syracuse Personal Injury Attorney
It is not uncommon for a defendant in a car accident case to allege that the plaintiff caused the collision and, therefore, should be denied damages, but blanket assertions are insufficient to support such defenses. If you were hurt in a collision, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible about your potential claims. The assertive Syracuse personal injuryattorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can inform you of your options and help you to seek the best legal outcome available under the facts of your case. You can contact us through our form online or by calling us at 833-200-2000 to set up a conference.