Getting Accident Reports - Part 2

We were last talking about getting accident reports, so I’ll continue where I left off….

The Washington State Patrol has a statutory duty to collect and compile accident reports. WSP is a public agency. See RCW 42.56.010(1). The accident reports are public recordsSee RCW 42.56.070. Both WSP and these accident reports are subject to the Public Records Act (see Chapter 42.56 RCW), which requires public agencies to make public records available to the public. Nevertheless, WSP, WSDOT, and a number of municipalities have refused to provide accident reports for a particular location unless the person seeking the reports signs a form promising that the records will not be used in litigation brought against any governmental entity. That promise not to sue, as a condition of accessing accident reports, has been repeatedly rejected by our trial courts. But the battle is not over.

I will discuss a brief history of the fight for accident reports in my next blog post.