What You Should Do if You Witness a Car Accident
Witnessing an accident forces you to consider some difficult questions. Do you have a legal obligation to stop? Should you call 911? How can you help the victims? Do you need to stick around to talk to the police? It can be hard to know exactly what to do, especially if the accident involves serious injuries.
If you witness an accident, chances are you want to assist the injured in any way you can. That’s why we’ve provided these helpful tips for providing assistance if you’ve witnessed a car accident:
- Consider stopping to help: Even though witnesses are under no legal obligation to stop when they see an accident, many people choose to do so to help others in need. Medical assistance, a timely emergency call, and a willing witness who speaks with police can make a difference for an injured victim. However, if you’re worried that stopping your car could cause more problems, there are other things to consider. A chaotic crash scene on a road filled with traffic might prevent you from finding a safe spot to pull over and exit your vehicle. Remember: you should consider your safety and the safety of other drivers on the road.
- If you are able to safely leave your car: If you decide to aid the victims, make sure you leave your car away from the crash site; combustibles can cause damage even after the accident, and fire spreads quickly. Your car should also be clear of any traffic. Sometimes, good Samaritans may unintentionally make conditions worse by parking their cars in unsafe locations. Additionally, you’ll want to leave plenty of room for emergency response vehicles to reach the scene to help the injured.
- Call 911: Never assume that someone else has dialed 911. You want to make sure that emergency responders know about the situation. When you call 911, be calm, clear, and to-the-point. Provide the precise location of the accident to the best of your ability, briefly describe the situation, and report the number of people who need emergency medical aid. Give any other details requested by the operator.
- Check on the victims: If you can, carefully approach the crash site to check on the victims. Make sure you are on the lookout for broken glass, fire, and other dangers. Unless you have medical training, do not attempt to render assistance. You can verbally confirm that emergency medical help is on the way and try to calm the accident victims. But you typically should not risk making matters worse for crash victims. The Florida Good Samaritan Act protects people who render care in response to an emergency situation. But you should avoid moving individuals involved in the collision unless they are in immediate danger. Moving an injured person can be exceptionally risky if they have suffered severe trauma to the spine, head, or internal organs.
- Take careful note of events: A reliable witness to a car accident can help victims secure the correct insurance payouts as well as financial compensation from the responsible party. Take notes about what you saw if you have time while waiting for the police to arrive. You may also consider taking pictures with your phone to support your eyewitness evidence.
- Speak with police and provide your contact information: Give the officers your contact information if you are willing to be contacted about the crash. Be prepared to answer some questions from lawyers or insurance agents concerning the accident, and know that your testimony can make the difference for innocent victims seeking the money they deserve.
In the event of a serious accident, it is understandable that as a witness, you may not know how to help those involved. By remaining calm and providing whatever assistance you can while keeping yourself safe, you may be able to make a difference and potentially may save someone’s life.
The Sarasota car accident lawyers of Buckman & Buckman, P.A. know the fastest path to recovery for car accident victims, and they have dedicated their careers to helping injured people in Florida for nearly two decades. For more information on car accidents in the Sarasota Suncoast, contact us today.