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Accident reporting statute covers injury regardless of monetary cost

City of Rhinelander v. Thomas V. Wakely, 2015Ap302, 3/8/16, District 3 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

While the accident reporting requirement under § 346.70(1) requires that property damage reach a certain minimum “apparent [monetary] extent” before the accident is reportable, it does not require a minimum monetary extent for personal injuries before the accident is reportable.

¶6     …. Wakely’s argument that insufficient evidence was presented at trial is based upon the false premise that, in order for him to be found guilty of violating § 346.70(1), he must have caused damage and injury to the “apparent [monetary] extent” he claims was required by the statute ($200 or more, or total damage to property owned by any one person or to a state or other government owned vehicle to an apparent extent of $1,000). However, under § 346.70(1), if the operator of a vehicle is involved in an accident in which a person is injured as defined in the statute, that operator is required to report the accident to law enforcement. The plain language of § 346.70(1) in no way requires a person’s injuries to reach a monetary threshold before the accident is reportable…. Wakely was required to report the accident based solely upon the bicyclist’s resulting injury. The evidence presented at trial (other than Wakely’s testimony) indicated Wakely’s vehicle collided with the bicyclist, the bicyclist was injured, and Wakely failed to report the accident to law enforcement. As a result, the evidence was sufficient to sustain the verdict.

For the same reason, the circuit court didn’t err when it refused to instruct the jury that the City was not required to prove the bicyclist’s injuries reached a particular monetary threshold. (¶¶7-8).

Note that § 346.70(1) is punishable only by a forfeiture, § 346.74(2g); the statute carrying criminal penalties for failing to stop and render aid is § 346.67, the penalties for which are under § 346.74(5).

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