In Ontario, persons and organizations that violate privacy laws are now more frequently being subjected to court scrutiny. In the past, privacy breaches have not been the types of breaches people take to court. When faced with privacy breaches, the preferred route was to file a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). Should the privacy of individuals in Ontario be protected by law? The short answer is yes, of course. However, some institutions improperly hide behind privacy legislation making it increasingly difficult for victims of violence and accidents to obtain the identity and contact particulars of the wrongdoers so they can pursue their remedies at law.
Consider the following example: you are walking down a municipal sidewalk when an individual approaching you is walking with a dog on a leash. As you pass by that individual and their dog, the dog lunges forward and bites your hand causing you serious injury requiring several surgeries. You you spend the next six months in and out of hospitals and the following six months in therapy. You sustained physical injuries, emotional injuries and psychological injuries and a significant loss of income. To make matters worse, you do not have medical insurance covering the needed therapy and you are paying significant out of pocket expenses for therapy and medical expenses. On the date of the incident, a bystander called an ambulance and dialed 911. Attending on scene were police officers, bylaw enforcement officers and ambulance attendants. The bylaw officer and the police speak with the dog owner and take their statement. The bylaw officer and the police officer speak with you and take your statement. They also take statements from witnesses. You are transported to hospital for your injuries and are in shock. It does not occur to you to obtain the name of the dog owner.
Subsequent to the incident you retain a personal injury lawyer to pursue compensation from the dog owner arising out of the dog attack. When your personal injury lawyer asks you to identify the dog owner and his address, you say that you don’t have that information but that the police and the bylaw officers would have that information. Your personal injury lawyer will write to the police and the bylaw officer seeking a copy of their file. Inevitably, the results of that inquiry will be that the dog owner’s name and all contact particulars will be blacked out so that the name and contact particulars are hidden. The municipality and the police institution will rely on privacy legislation to protect the identity of the wrongdoer. Does this make any sense? Absolutely not. However, this happens every single day. The result of the refusal by the municipality and the police to divulge the identity of the wrongdoer and their address means that you will have to spend thousands of dollars bringing a court application seeking an order compelling the municipality and the police to reveal the identity of the wrongdoer together with their contact particulars. In almost every case, the court will make such an order. The application of privacy legislation to situations like this is absurd and offends the natural justice rights of victims.
At our law firm, as personal injury lawyers we work on a basis of no fee until you win – called a contingency fee basis. Our lawyers will bring whatever motions are necessary to obtain all the information required to pursue your claim for compensation. If you have been injured in an accident, please call us for a free no obligation consultation and learn about what we can do for you to protect your rights and interests to advance a claim for fair compensation. Call us at 613 563 1131.