In a 7-2 decision, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that accident reports compiled by the Washington State Patrol (WSP)are public records and should be available by request.
The state sought to withhold records from the public arguing that a federal state shielded the records because they were in a Department of Transportation database.
Justice Mary E. Fairhurst wrote for the majority that that citizens of Washington had been allowed to access location-specific reports up until 2003 and that the state was unfairly prohibiting the access of the records.
The case came before the court after a bicyclist, who suffered a paralyzing injury in a bicycle accident on the Montlake Bridge in Seattle, sued after the WSP withheld accident files when he sought location-specific records. The WSP coerced the bicyclist to sign a document stating that he would not use the records to sue the state. The cyclist eventually prevailed and he received a $8 million settlement for his lawsuit claiming that gaps in the steel plates on the Montlake bridge were too wide and caused his accident.
Source: Seattle Times: Wash. justices: Accident reports are public record
This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents and bicycle accidents and the family of those killed. With our help, you may recover compensation for your damages.