Can You Request Cell Phone Records to Prove Fault in a Car Accident?

June 26, 2018

Distracted driving behaviors, including texting and talking on the phone, play a role in thousands of car accidents each year. A person who texts and drives will likely be at majority fault in a car accident. Since California has a sweeping ban against both cell phone use and texting, a driver who violates the law will likely be liable for any damages that you incur following an accident. You may have seen the driver texting or talking on the phone before he or she plowed into your vehicle – but how do you prove it?

The Importance of Eyewitness Accounts

Collaboration of your story, particularly with eyewitnesses, plays a valuable role in determining fault in your car accident case in California. A police officer will respond to the scene and ask you, the other driver, and other witnesses to the accident to describe what happened. If several parties can corroborate that the other driver was texting or talking at the time, it could go a long way in establishing fault. However, you might have to take other steps to provide proof of liability, especially when you think another driver was using the phone.

How Can I Request Phone Records?

When there are no eyewitnesses to an accident – or these witnesses did not see evidence of cell phone use – determining liability in a car accident can become a “he said, she said” matter unless you have the assistance of an attorney. With a lawyer’s help, you can subpoena phone records to see if a driver was using the phone in the moments before the crash. If phone records indicate that a person received texts or picked up a call around the time a crash occurred, it could be enough to establish liability in an accident.
Generally, your attorney gathers evidence like phone records and submits it to the court during a process called discovery. This is a formal legal proceeding in which an attorney completes his or her own investigation into your claims and gathers evidence that supports your case. If a phone company does not disclose phone records voluntarily, your lawyer can formally file a subpoena, which compels them by law to cooperate in the matter.

The Importance of an Accident Attorney

Unfortunately, the average person cannot simply call up a phone company and ask for information about another person’s usage – even if it does involve a civil investigation. The process usually requires a subpoena, which an attorney can provide. With the help of a personal injury attorney in San Diego or throughout California, you can obtain phone records from another driver’s company and determine liability for your car accident.
In order to subpoena phone records, your attorney must show a “good faith” basis to believe a driver was texting at the time of the crash. In other words, you can’t just request another person’s information because you think they might have been texting – California law usually requires a stronger standard of evidence, such as eyewitness accounts or forensic evidence that would point to distraction.

Establishing Fault in Your Car Accident

An attorney will do everything to protect your right to compensation following a car accident, including requesting subpoenas for a driver’s phone records. Proving that another driver was using a cell phone at the time of a crash requires a specific legal process, guided by an attorney. Your role in the matter, however, is also important: at the accident scene, gather any eyewitness contact information available, as they could be the key to establishing a good faith cause for a subpoena. The information your accident attorney finds could prove invaluable in establishing liability for your injuries following a California car accident.