Courts to allow access to State Patrol and DOT accident records

The Washington Court of Appeals released an opinion last week that gave citizens the right to access motor vehicle accident records collected by the Washington State Patrol and provided to the Washington Department of Transportation (DOT) under the Public Records Act.

The case came before the court when a bicycle accident victim sued to see DOT records concerning Seattle bicycle accidents on the Ship canal bridge but the state refused the records release unless the accident victim certified that he would not use the data in a lawsuit against the state.

The bicycle accident victim, Mickey Gendler, argued that under the Public Records Act citizens have a right to access the records and obtain information about unsafe road conditions.

Washington States Public Records act is RCW 42.56 and you can view it here on the Washington State Legislature web-site.

It can be argued since State can obtain identifying information from citizens when they are using the roadways by acquiring information from red light cameras and transponders then the citizen has a right to obtain information about those roadways and their accident rates. “People will be able to get these kinds of records and pressure the state to do something about an unsafe condition,” Gendler said. In our opinion, the State should be using information gathered about unsafe road conditions to ameliorate the problem, not to shield itself from a potential lawsuit.

Court: You can see accident reports even if you plan to sue
By SCOTT GUTIERREZ for the Posted December 1, 2010
This information is provided by Seattle Car Accident Lawyer blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured in Bellevue car accidents and the family of those killed. With our help, you may obtain civil justice.

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