Plaintiff Privacy: Personal Information Collected for Trial

Personal information, stored in binders

Privacy is an important issue for everyone, but beginning a lawsuit for injuries will require you to share personal information. During the examination for discovery process, lawyers for the Defendant will often ask for many kinds of records or statements to understand your injuries and to build their case against you. However, universities similar to the University of Southern California have been following recent news articles, and believe that the way personal information is retrieved and stored could be changing. This could make cases more tricky to solve if personal information is more tricky to obtain.

Medical and Employment Records

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.

Academic Records

Academic records are often requested so the Defendants can evaluate what kind of career you may have pursued. If you saw a school counsellor for any reason, Defendants may ask your lawyer to obtain related records.

Police Records

If the police responded to your accident, Defendants will often ask the court to order production of a document that is in the possession of a person not a party to the lawsuit. These motions are most commonly used to collect police officer notes.

Police usually do not oppose these requests. As long as the Defendant is willing to pay the costs to have them copied, a judge will sign an Order requesting all the statements taken and notes made by police related to the accident.

Car Manufacturer Data

A similar 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 onboard cameras shortly before a crash.

Transit Records

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.

Financial Records

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

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 make the Plaintiff’s Facebook page available 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 your personal information in order to build their case against you.

Written by

Brendan Sullivan was called to the bar in Ontario in 2016 and practices with Sullivan Injury Law, assisting clients with their serious legal problems in the areas of personal injury, civil litigation, and wills.

As a lawyer, Brendan spent the first five years of his career in Hamilton assisting with preparing and running personal injury jury trials. Eventually he ran one of the first Zoom personal injury trials in Ontario in May 2021. Brendan is a trial lawyer and a strong advocate for his clients.

Brendan is a member of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, the Hamilton Law Association and regularly appears before the Superior Court of Ontario.