Can fitness tracker data be used in an injury claim?

What are activity trackers?

Activity trackers are personal electronic devices designed to aid with sports performance. They can monitor distances, heart rate, time taken, inclines and other factors to aid progress in sporting activities such as running and cycling. Activity trackers are available from Microsoft, Garmin, Apple, Fitbit, Jawbone and a host of other manufacturers.

How can activity trackers impact compensation claims?

If a person has been injured, an activity tracker can contain valuable information to compile evidence of a person's fitness levels and activity before the accident. This evidence can be used to demonstrate the impact the accident has had on a number of aspects of a person's life, including:

  • Lifestyle
  • Fitness
  • Quality of life
  • Employment
  • Loss of earnings

How do I present activity tracker evidence?

Activity trackers are a relatively new innovation but data from these devices may be accepted as evidence in the certain injury claims. An injury case being reviewed y the Canadian Courts involves an activity tracker and is being closely watched to ascertain the outcome.

The party seeking to rely on activity tracker evidence must ensure that it is in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules. The added expense of reviewing the additional evidence must be proportionate to the claim being presented.

For example, examining activity tracker data may not be considered proportionate to a compensation claim from a moderately active person who runs as a hobby. Cases where activity and fitness levels are linked to employment - such as personal trainers - are more likely to be accepted, as the injury may have had a significant effect on the injured party's income and livelihood.

How is activity tracker evidence reviewed?

At present, medical experts are required to examine the injured party and make a judgement on the impact of the injury and the effect this has had on the person's life. With the advent of activity trackers, far more detailed and accurate data is now available.

A medical expert will be requested to review the data from the activity tracker as a part of medical records following the injury. The activity data prior to the injury can reveal a lot about a person's activity levels, fitness, habits and behaviours that may have been affected by the injury.

The pre-injury data may be compared to data collected after the injury, or with that of healthy people of the same age, to demonstrate that the person's physical capabilities have diminished.

A claimant's duty of disclosure will require the information to be extended to the defendant. It is worth acknowledging that this has the potential to adversely affect the case, and as such the decision whether to use activity trackers in compensation claims cases should be considered carefully.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher