In this age of computers, tablets, and smartphones, it's highly likely you'll be using digital evidence of some kind in your personal injury case against a defendant who caused your injuries. However, it's important to handle this evidence carefully; otherwise, it may be rejected by the court, which could tank your case. Here are two reasons digital evidence isn't accepted and what you can do to avoid this problem.
The Evidence Wasn't Legally Obtained
One of the most common reasons digital evidence is ruled inadmissible is because it was obtained without authorization. In personal injury cases, this can happen when the plaintiff acquires access to a digital device in a questionable manner. For instance, the person screenshots posts from the defendant's private Facebook while the account was open on a laptop. Whether the plaintiff had the right to access the data depends on where the laptop was located, how the plaintiff came across the data, and other factors.
It's important to use the law whenever possible to obtain digital evidence. Your attorney can subpoena the defendant to provide access to his or her private Facebook account, which will let you legally obtain the posts in question, for example. If you're concerned the defendant will erase or change the data, it may be okay to make a copy. However, tell your attorney how you obtained it so she can figure out a way to make it admissible in court or find alternative evidence to use instead that will accomplish the same goal.
The Evidence Appears to Be Tampered With
With the proliferation of image, video, and audio editing devices, it's unbelievably easy to make changes to pictures and other items that appear real. This is another reason why digital evidence may be rejected by the court. Even mild alterations that appear unnecessary may cause the judge to throw out the evidence, even though the content and context of the item remains the same.
The best way to avoid this issue is to have any and all evidence reviewed by an expert. For instance, you can send a video to a technologist who can certify the recording it genuine and unaltered. Likewise, you can have any digital evidence sent in by the defendant reviewed to dispute their authenticity if you suspect something may be faked.
For more information about obtaining and using digital evidence in your personal injury case, contact an attorney.