Simple Steps for Preserving and Managing Cell Phone Data

Written by Adrienne Moss

Mobile devices have become an integral part of our everyday lives. We use our cell phones not only to communicate but also to store and transmit data and other information worldwide. Trucking companies even use cell phone applications as part of their company practices. New innovations constantly evolve and continue changing how we use our cell phones and store data. As such, cell phones and the information they contain have become an integral part of motor vehicle accident investigations and litigation. It is becoming all too common that if you are involved in an accident, the other party will issue a preservation letter requesting a driver involved in the accident to preserve the contents of his or her cell phone and may even request an inspection of your cell phone.

There is a wide variety of data contained on your cell phone, including text messages, multimedia messages, contacts, call logs, media files, local application data, files, hidden files, deleted files, and raw data stored in the memory of your phone. Failing to preserve the information stored could lead to serious repercussions during litigation. However, there are simple steps that can be taken to prevent the destruction of this information in compliance with a preservation request or in anticipation of an inspection.

First, ensure that your cell phone is not set to automatically delete text messages and other data. Most devices come with this setting that, if switched on, will periodically delete this information. Turning this setting off or switching it to preserve the information for an indefinite period of time is a useful step in preventing the deletion of any potential evidence. Second, back up any information contained on your phone to the online cloud. Backing up your cell phone will create a digital copy of the data in the event that the cell phone is damaged, destroyed, or lost. In some instances, pulling cell phone information from the online cloud can be simpler and more streamlined than pulling it from your individual device. Last, it is important to periodically check your phone to ensure that the information is still there. With all these other fail-safes in place, checking your phone may seem like a simple task but is often overlooked especially as litigation progresses and focus changes. By checking your phone regularly, you can physically monitor that the data and information are being stored and not deleted. Further, by taking this extra step, you can verify that the other above practices are working properly and have not been disrupted by a device update or for some other reason.

Most importantly, if you are involved in an accident or are faced with a preservation letter or inspection request, you should contact an attorney to assist you through this process to prevent the spoliation of evidence.

Adrienne A. Moss