Wearable Technology as Evidence in your Disability or Workers’ Compensation Claim
It can be difficult to prove physical limitations and the ability to move and engage in activities to the same degree as before a workplace accident, or any accident for that matter. Fortunately, new wearable technologies can assist in proving to a court or workers’ compensation board that you have truly lost a substantial amount of your physical capabilities after an on-the-job accident.
Wearable technology, also known as “lifelogging devices,” include the Fitbit, Nike Fuelband, Apple Watch and other smart watches, and Google Glass. These devices can be set to gather such broad-ranging data about your day-to-day life as your sleep patterns, steps taken, and amount of exercise completed. The wearable device market has quickly caught hold, with 20% of Americans reporting ownership of such a device. While these devices were originally marketed as a way for individuals to track their own activity levels and habits, a number of industries have found additional ways to use this information. Examples include employee wellness programs, employee productivity monitoring, and now, workers’ compensation claims.
One case that has gained widespread attention involves a former personal trainer who was injured on the job several years ago. The woman plans to introduce data from her wearable device in court to show how greatly her average activity level has fallen off from when she was an able-bodied personal trainer. While she did not use any wearable technology before the accident, her attorney plans to rely on evidence of the average activity level of a young person with a job as a trainer to prove the disparity between her pre- and post-injury lifestyles.
Evidence for both sides
Wearable devices can be an asset in advancing someone’s degree of disability. However, if the extent of the disability claimed is unsupported by such device, the data they collect can be injurious to such claims. The data from a wearable device may be subpoenaed by the opposing side in a lawsuit or compensation claim to show that someone’s mobility has not been sufficiently limited to qualify someone for disability benefits. It may also be the case that the number of steps you’ve taken or calories you’ve burned in a given day is not an accurate representation of your disability, as your injury may be one that prevents you from doing your job, but does not prevent other activity. For example, your work may require bending and lifting heavy loads, and a back injury may render you eligible for workers’ compensation, but would not prevent you from engaging in low-impact exercise such as brisk walking. Having an attorney who is able to successfully argue this distinction before a judge could be crucial to the success of your claim.
If you’ve been injured on the job in New York State and want to ensure you’re fully compensated for your lost wage benefits and payment of causally-related medical expenses, contact Peter M. Cordovano for a consultation at 845-691-4200.