The Syracuse Post Standard reports that the top 5 cell phone carriers in the U.S. receive a total of 1.3 million requests from law enforcement agencies for personal and location data. Cell phones have built in GPS tracking devices that record the cell phone’s whereabouts. Police use of cell phone data is now widespread, even among small, local police departments.
What the Post Standard article does not say is that New York car accident lawyers like me also use cell phone data in our cases. Here’s how:
Say I have a car accident case where the defendant driver, at deposition, tells me he was not at all distracted when he entered an intersection against a stop sign and collided into my client’s car. Let’s say he claims my client “came out of nowhere” and therefore “must have been speeding”. My next question? “Sir, do you have a cell phone” (answer: yes). My next question: “were you using it at the time of the collision or just before the collision” (Answer: “no”). Next questions, “what carrier do you use”, and “what is the phone number”.
With this information, I can then subpoena the driver’s cell phone records and examine the exact times of the incoming and outgoing calls. If the driver doesn’t know which carrier he was using at the time of the accident, I can simply subpoena all the major cell phone carriers for their records regarding that phone number.
I haven’t yet subpoenaed data regarding the location of the cell phone at the time of the accident because I haven’t needed to; the driver usually admits his cell phone was on him, but denies he was using it.
To be honest, every time I have subpoenaed such records, they have confirmed that the driver was not using the cell phone at the time of the accident. But that doesn’t mean I won’t keep checking! Needless to say, some witnesses do lie under oath, and others just have a bad memory. Either way, I’ve got a right, and in fact a duty to my client, to verify that the driver is telling the truth when he claims he wasn’t talking on the phone at the time of the accident. If it turns out he was talking on the phone, that goes a long way in explaining why he felt my client “came out of nowhere . . .”
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!