Is your Smart Phone your Best Friend or Worst Enemy?

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Smart phones - most people have one now, and most people use them - a lot. To the point where they have been blamed for everything from obesity to kids not talking to their parents. If you have a smart phone, it can be your best friend and your worst enemy in terms of staying alive and uninjured...and in terms of dealing with the aftermath of an accident.

Best friend?

1. Having a smartphone means always having the ability to call for help, unless you're in a wilderness area with no cell support. A study in the Journal of Emergency Medicine found that statistically, patients are more likely to survive when help is called using a cell phone than a landline. The reason is simple: The phone is right there so the call happens faster - and the ambulance arrives more quickly.

2. Smartphones have been used as evidence in personal injury cases. First of all, all smartphones contain a camera. This can be used to take pictures of where the accident occurred, vehicle damage, injuries, damaged gear, etc. They can also be used to record your notes about the accident so you remember everything later, store contact information of other people involved, etc - but be careful about recording commentary, as it can be used against you later. Also, recording audio or video of another person without their consent can be illegal. Finally, smartphone tracking data can be used to establish somebody's location...although this is also iffy in regards to privacy.

3. There are various smartphone apps that can help prevent injury. Workout and stretch apps help people stay fit, there are apps that can calculate fall clearance, track chemical storage, educate children on safety and even help spot concussion symptoms. Look into downloading some apps that might help you in your specific lifestyle.

Worst Enemy?

1. Driving and talking. Driving and texting. Even walking and texting. All of these behaviors cause accidents and injuries. Hands free kits do help, but sometimes you just need to turn off the phone - and respect the need of others to do the same. Never talk or text on a cellphone while driving a vehicle or doing anything else that requires free hands and concentration (People have even been hurt while using their phone on the back of a horse). Letting your phone become a distraction is a quick way to end up in the ER - and furthermore to losing any claim you make (the "cell phone defense").

2. Kaboom. Exploding smart phones are rare, but most people have not forgotten the entire Samsung Galaxy Note 7 fiasco. In fact, any smart phone can explode. In order to keep yourself safe, avoid using cheap chargers - make sure your charger comes from the phone's manufacturer or a reputable brand. If you replace your phone's battery, don't cheap out. Good batteries have protection to keep from over-charging, cheap batteries may not, and are more likely to have manufacturing defect. Keep an eye on your device and occasionally check the battery - a battery that is starting to bulge should be ditched as soon as possible. If your phone suddenly starts getting hotter than normal (all phones are hot, but you should know how hot it is) then check the battery. In some cases the phone company may be liable in a personal injury case, but most exploding phone incidents are caused by third party products.

3. Phone use can cause back problems. Never cradle a phone (any kind of phone) between your ear and shoulder as this can cause repetitive strain injury in the neck. Avoid leaning over your phone as it can mess up your posture and result in back ache. Smartphones are being blamed for a massive rise in back problems in 16- to 24-year-olds.

Nobody is saying, of course, to ditch your phone - and having a phone in your pocket can literally save your or somebody else's life. But keep everything in balance, and don't forget to take photos if you're in an accident. If you need advice after an accident contact Ianuario Law for a free consultation.

http://www.amta.org.au/articles/Mobile.phones.proven.to.save.lives.in.emergencies

https://www.personalinjury-law.com/faq/how-do-i-take-photos-for-personal-injury-claim

http://stories.avvo.com/crime/traffic-law/dos-donts-gathering-evidence-smartphone.html

http://www.lawtechnologytoday.org/2016/04/smartphones-and-car-accidents/

https://www.teamknowhow.com/discover/discover/why-do-smartphone-batteries-explode

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/11532428/Why-smartphones-are-making-you-ill.html

Written by Rob Ianuario

Although I was not born into the legal profession, I chose to go to law school and became an attorney in 2008. With the encouragement of many established attorneys, I started my Greenville, SC law practice in 2010. I am the son of an engineer with strong ties to the automotive industry and collector cars. I have even worked as a BMW mechanic in Munich, Germany. Weather and court permitting, I am proud to drive a 1931 Model A Ford on a regular basis.
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