The Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently ruled that federal law that protects driver’s license information does not permit Wisconsin police departments to withhold information from accident reports. In 1994, Congress enacted the Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) after a stalker obtained the home address of a Hollywood actress from motor vehicle records and murdered her. The DPPA provides for statutory damages of $2,500 per violation.
After an Illinois lawsuit concerning a parking ticket containing driver information that a city police officer left on a driver’s car, police in Wisconsin began redacting driver information from all traffic accident reports, no matter how minor. Statewide, many Wisconsin police departments took this action, despite the fact that the former Wisconsin Attorney General stated that the redactions were not required under the DPPA and police departments in Illinois and Indiana did not follow suit.
In 2013, the New Richmond News sued the City of New Richmond over the redaction of accident reports. The trial court ruled in favor of the newspaper, finding that the DPPA was never meant to overrule Wisconsin’s public records law. The court also ruled that complying with the state law was a police function that constituted an exception to the DPPA. The city appealed, and the Court of Appeals passed the case on to the Wisconsin Supreme Court due its public significance. The death of a state supreme court justice resulted in a 3-3 tie, so the case was remanded back to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision, finding that the DPPA does not require police departments to withhold driver information from accident reports. However, the Court left the possibility open that police departments may have to redact driver information, depending on the function the department is serving by releasing the records and the source of the driver information.
When an accident occurs as a result of the driver’s negligence, and causes injury to a passenger, driver of another vehicle, or even a pedestrian, the injured individual may have a claim for damages under Wisconsin law. Accident reports are typically an essential piece of evidence in these types of cases, and one that must be both preserved and disclosed at all costs. However, there are laws that limit the time periods in which you can file personal injury claims in the state of Wisconsin, and you can lose your right to compensation if you do not consult an experienced lawyer in time. Don’t delay in contacting the Madison personal injury attorneys of Boller & Vaughan, and set up your free consultation today.
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We live in Friendship, Wisconsin, and Boller & Vaughan came to our doorstep to discuss our mother’s wrongful death claim on a Saturday morning. Not only were we pleased with the large recovery, we were so thankful to have lawyers who were willing to explain to us every twist and turn along the way. It is great to know there is a law firm that will fight for the rights of elderly people all over Wisconsin.
Mr. Boller and Ms. Vaughan were incredible in working on my case and my daughter’s case. I was out of work and in the hospital with a new baby. Mr. Boller and Ms. Vaughan protected our rights and it was a pleasure to work with them. I hope never to be in another motor vehicle accident, however, if I am and I am injured, I will contact Boller & Vaughan immediately.
I was referred to Michelle through a friend. I have never had a better experience. It took a little over a year to get my settlement but the staff there stayed in constant contact and kept me in the loop. Oh, and Michelle actually got me MORE money than we discussed. I will refer anyone to this firm. Words cannot do justice the thanks that I have for Michelle and her staff (Mary especially) thank you guys so much!
After my husband died as a result of a motor vehicle accident, Boller & Vaughan spent countless hours talking with me, meeting with me in person, and making sure that I was okay. The drunk driver who hit us did not have any insurance, and we had to make a claim through our own insurance. Boller & Vaughan was fantastic at explaining the law to me and the handling of our claims.
After my son was injured in a daycare setting, Ms. Vaughan took the time to thoroughly investigate our case and my son’s injuries. Michele was approachable and had answers to our questions. Talking with her helped to relieve many of our anxieties.