What Information can Parties to a Lawsuit Collect about Me?
Privacy is an important issue for everyone, and Plaintiffs must understand that beginning a lawsuit for personal injuries will lead to a loss of some privacy. As mentioned in previous posts, medical and employment records are always collected as part of a personal injury case. Your pre-accident health and employment status is something the Defendants have a right to know.
During the examination for discovery process, lawyers for the Defendant will often ask for many more kinds of records or statements to understand your injuries and to build their case against you.
For young injured Plaintiffs, school records are often requested so the Defendants can evaluate what kind of career you may have pursued. If you saw a counsellor at school for any issue such as bullying, Defendants may ask your lawyer to contact that counsellor and get their records.
If the police responded to your accident, Defendants will often bring what is known as a ’30.10 motion’ named after the clause in the Rules of Civil Procedure that allows the court to order production of a document that is in the possession, control or power of a person not a party to the lawsuit. These motions are most commonly used to obtain police officer notes.
Police usually do not oppose a ’30.10 motion’. As long as the Defendant is willing to pay the costs to have them copied, a judge will sign an Order disclosing all the statements taken and notes made by police related to the accident.
A 30.10 motion can also be brought against a car manufacturer or person who has possession of a motor vehicle to obtain an Order for the “black box” data from the car. Modern cars have powerful computers on board that track events within the car. This can range from information regarding speed, deployment of airbags and even video from cameras shortly before a crash.
Recently it was reported by the Hamilton Spectator that Metrolinx has been sharing Presto card users’ private data with the Police who provided a court order. This information includes when a rider got on and off a GO bus, Mississauga’s MiWay or the HSR in Hamilton. (http://www.thespec.com/news-story/7351209-metrolinx-has-been-quietly-sharing-presto-users-information-with-police/)
In rare cases, bank records can become relevant to a lawsuit as well. If you were to win the lottery, and it was enough money that you never had to work again, the Defendants may bring
a motion before the Court to require you to provide bank records of how much money you won and when.
Social media profiles are another often-requested invasion of privacy by the Defendants to a lawsuit. First, Defendants will request that all social media profiles be disclosed and preserved – no deleting anything. Next, they will request production of all pages of all profiles.
In a recent case, Nemchin v. Green 2017 ONSC 1403, the lawyers agreed to have the Plaintiff’s Facebook page activated and open for an 8 hour period so the Defendant’s lawyers could access her posts, pages, events and photographs – saving anything they thought was relevant.
When you choose to begin a personal injury action, be aware that Defendants have a right to invade your privacy in order to build their case against you.
Written by Brendan Sullivan