Can Accident Victims Access Distracted Drivers’ Phone Records After Crashes in Colorado?
Distracted driving is widely recognized as one of the most common causes (if not the most common cause) of auto accidents in the United States. While autonomous vehicles may one day allow drivers to safely talk, text and scroll their social media feeds behind the wheel, in today’s world it remains extremely dangerous (and negligent) for drivers to use their phones while driving. This is something that our Denver auto accident lawyers know all too well.
If you were hit by a distracted driver, how do you prove it? Although there have been some cases of drivers admitting to driving distracted (and even posting about it online), most people will try to hide the fact that they were on their phone when they caused a crash. Fortunately, there are a few options available, including subpoenaing the driver’s call and text logs from his or her phone company.
Using Cell Phone Records to Prove that a Driver was Distracted
While there are a variety of potential ways to prove that a driver was distracted at the time of the crash, one of the most-direct and most-effective ways is to use his or her cell phone records. Phone companies know when their customers make calls, answer calls and send texts, and they keep comprehensive logs of their customers’ use of their phones.
Typically, phone companies will not give out their customers’ information voluntarily. If they did, not only would they be inundated with requests, but they would also almost certainly face backlash over privacy and other concerns. However, phone companies can be required to disclose their customers’ phone records when those records are potential evidence in legal proceedings.
The procedure for formally requesting a driver’s cell phone records involves serving a subpoena on the phone company. This is done during the “discovery” phase of a case, which comes well before trial. In fact, while it is possible to present phone records as evidence at trial if necessary, most distracted driving cases settle long before they even get close to going to court.
What if I Don’t Know Whether the Other Driver was On the Phone?
While some cases involve accident victims who saw the other driver on their phone or eyewitnesses who can testify that the other driver was distracted, this is not always (or even often) the case. In a typical scenario, the circumstances of the crash will simply suggest that the other driver may have been distracted. If this is the case, can you still subpoena the other driver’s cell phone records?
Yes. The fundamental principle of “discovery” is that it is designed to allow parties to gather the information they need in order to develop their legal arguments. If you don’t know exactly what happened (and virtually no auto accident victim does), that is okay. The legal process is designed to allow you to assert your legal rights. You just need to work with a lawyer who knows how to use the process to your advantage.
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Were you injured in an accident that may have been caused by a distracted driver? To find out if you are entitled to financial compensation, call us at 303-333-8000 or request a free consultation online today.