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FOIA and Personal Injury

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses FOIA and Personal Injury.
Brien Roche

FOIA stands for the Freedom of Information Act. Both the U.S. and all 50 states have FOIA laws. The laws at the state level differ from state to state. You need to know the details of your state law to make a FOIA request at that level.

There are some basics that apply across the board whether you’re dealing with the U.S. or a state.

FOIA Requests Must Be Focused, Concise and Tough

First, target your request. In dealing with the U.S., there are nine (9) areas of inquiry that are exempt. This means that requests that fall into any one of those 9 areas may be objected to. In dealing with the U.S., the areas that you most often see as being claimed as exempt are requests for classified info, law enforcement info, privacy protected info, internal decisions and matters subject to a privilege. When dealing with the US go to https://www.foia.gov/. You should be able to make your request to any agency from this site.

Also you can go straight to the agency. If that’s the way that you proceed, then try to identify the agency FOIA Officer and deal directly with that person.

Also, write your request in plain, narrow English. Use search terms that are narrow and that the person who is likely to do the search will know what they mean. Asking for “any and all documents…” is probably only going to generate an objection. In addition if you know who has the documents, where they are, what date ranges you want and what key words should be used to do the search, state all of that in your request.

Don’t waste your time asking for privileged stuff. You’re not going to get it.

Be Prepared To Sue

Also be tough. Under U.S. law the agency must respond within 20 business days. Once that deadline passes, you have the right to go to court. You need to be tough in the pursuit of your request. Also follow up any phone calls with persons handling your request with an email stating the details of what was said.

Finally be prepared to file suit. Whoever sent the request under the federal statute has standing to bring the suit. The suit can be brought where you are. Once the suit is filed then the court typically will order production of those documents that are not in dispute and then will order an index of any disputed documents. If you get the documents that are in dispute, you have a right to attorneys’ fees. Keep track of your time.

Other FOIA Requests

Some common areas of requests are such things as car crashes. Request the 911 logs to identify who called in the crash. Any call logs dealing with a crash will identify the phone number of the caller. These people may not be listed on the police report. Keep in mind that some public records are only kept for a short time. Filing a prompt request is a good idea. As part of your 911 request you can also request police radio traffic in regards to the event. You may also want prior 911 calls dealing with that same spot where the crash occurred. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

In addition in regards to car crashes, you may also want to obtain traffic light info dealing with sequence and how long a light stays green. In addition you can get info about walk signals and how the walk signal may relate to the traffic signal.

You may also obtain photo logs of the roadway. Crashes that occur near a government building or near a police car may be on video.

Premises Cases

In your premises case you may want to get 911 calls to that property and any prior police presence at that address. These may show that the defect that you are claiming has existed for a long time.

If your case is a real estate dispute, any planning or zoning documents may be sought through a FOIA request.

In cases involving people who have a license issued by the U.S., state or local body, you should obtain all prior complaints, license info or other papers maintained as to that person. In addition send a FOIA request to the public health office to obtain any info or adverse event reports about that person.

Two Stage Requests

A good tactic to use is to submit your request in two (2) stages. The first request should be very narrow. Based on what they produce from that request, you should then submit a second request that is broader. The wider net will likely produce a bigger catch.

Call, or contact us for a free consult. Also for more info about FOIA see the pages on Wikipedia.

For more information about personal injury, see the other pages on this site.

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Contact Us For A Free Consultation

FOIA and Personal Injury

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses FOIA and Personal Injury.
Brien Roche

FOIA stands for the Freedom of Information Act. Both the U.S. and all 50 states have FOIA laws. The laws at the state level differ from state to state. You need to know the details of your state law to make a FOIA request at that level.

There are some basics that apply across the board whether you’re dealing with the U.S. or a state.

FOIA Requests Must Be Focused, Concise and Tough

First, target your request. In dealing with the U.S., there are nine (9) areas of inquiry that are exempt. This means that requests that fall into any one of those 9 areas may be objected to. In dealing with the U.S., the areas that you most often see as being claimed as exempt are requests for classified info, law enforcement info, privacy protected info, internal decisions and matters subject to a privilege. When dealing with the US go to https://www.foia.gov/. You should be able to make your request to any agency from this site.

Also you can go straight to the agency. If that’s the way that you proceed, then try to identify the agency FOIA Officer and deal directly with that person.

Also, write your request in plain, narrow English. Use search terms that are narrow and that the person who is likely to do the search will know what they mean. Asking for “any and all documents…” is probably only going to generate an objection. In addition if you know who has the documents, where they are, what date ranges you want and what key words should be used to do the search, state all of that in your request.

Don’t waste your time asking for privileged stuff. You’re not going to get it.

Be Prepared To Sue

Also be tough. Under U.S. law the agency must respond within 20 business days. Once that deadline passes, you have the right to go to court. You need to be tough in the pursuit of your request. Also follow up any phone calls with persons handling your request with an email stating the details of what was said.

Finally be prepared to file suit. Whoever sent the request under the federal statute has standing to bring the suit. The suit can be brought where you are. Once the suit is filed then the court typically will order production of those documents that are not in dispute and then will order an index of any disputed documents. If you get the documents that are in dispute, you have a right to attorneys’ fees. Keep track of your time.

Other FOIA Requests

Some common areas of requests are such things as car crashes. Request the 911 logs to identify who called in the crash. Any call logs dealing with a crash will identify the phone number of the caller. These people may not be listed on the police report. Keep in mind that some public records are only kept for a short time. Filing a prompt request is a good idea. As part of your 911 request you can also request police radio traffic in regards to the event. You may also want prior 911 calls dealing with that same spot where the crash occurred. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

In addition in regards to car crashes, you may also want to obtain traffic light info dealing with sequence and how long a light stays green. In addition you can get info about walk signals and how the walk signal may relate to the traffic signal.

You may also obtain photo logs of the roadway. Crashes that occur near a government building or near a police car may be on video.

Premises Cases

In your premises case you may want to get 911 calls to that property and any prior police presence at that address. These may show that the defect that you are claiming has existed for a long time.

If your case is a real estate dispute, any planning or zoning documents may be sought through a FOIA request.

In cases involving people who have a license issued by the U.S., state or local body, you should obtain all prior complaints, license info or other papers maintained as to that person. In addition send a FOIA request to the public health office to obtain any info or adverse event reports about that person.

Two Stage Requests

A good tactic to use is to submit your request in two (2) stages. The first request should be very narrow. Based on what they produce from that request, you should then submit a second request that is broader. The wider net will likely produce a bigger catch.

Call, or contact us for a free consult. Also for more info about FOIA see the pages on Wikipedia.

For more information about personal injury, see the other pages on this site.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Contact Us For A Free Consultation