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When you’re a personal injury victim, especially in motor vehicle accidents, accessing police records can be a game-changer. Let’s dive into the ins and outs of obtaining your personal information, understanding exemptions, and a recent case that shows the highs and lows of this process.

Know Your Rights: The Power of 911 Calls

In Ontario, it’s vital to understand your rights when it comes to accessing records containing your personal information, including 911 calls. Whether you’re making the request yourself or through legal representation, the process usually involves submitting a formal request form and paying a fee.

What can you access? A treasure trove of information, including incident and investigation reports, witness statements, police briefs, arrest records, officers’ notes, and yes, those critical 911 calls. These records can shed light on what exactly went down during your accident, making them crucial in legal proceedings.

Exemptions and Privacy: The Catch

But here’s the catch – exemptions. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act outlines exemptions that can give the police a reason to deny your request. These exemptions can be mandatory or discretionary.

For instance, if sharing certain information infringes upon someone else’s privacy, your request might be turned down. This can become tricky when you need access to information provided by others, like 911 calls made by witnesses.

The Art of Appeals: A Recent Victory

Foisy & Associates recently triumphed in overturning a decision by the Ministry of the Solicitor General to deny access to 911 calls related to a client’s motor vehicle accident. Initially, our request was denied because the calls were made by a third party, and privacy concerns were raised.

We emphasized that our client’s interest was solely in the information provided by the caller, not their identity. Given our client’s head injury and loss of consciousness, these calls held vital insights into their well-being immediately after the accident.

Despite our persistence, the Ministry denied access again. Undeterred, we appealed to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. In a favorable outcome, it was determined that the Ministry must disclose the 911 calls. Since neither call contained personal information or identified the callers, and considering our client’s memory loss due to their injury, the calls were deemed relevant.

This case highlights the importance of perseverance and understanding your rights when navigating the sometimes challenging process of accessing police records. It’s a reminder that the pursuit of justice can be a winding road, but victories are possible with the right approach.