You may wonder what you should do if you witness a car accident.
If you do choose to stop and be a witness, you can be very helpful to the victim. This is especially so if someone was driving recklessly and was clearly at fault for the accident. Your statement and testimony can help the victim prove that the accident was not their fault, and help them get the compensation they need for their recovery.
Below are some tips that may be useful when you witness an accident.
Your Safety Comes First
If you are driving when you witness the accident, you should pull over to the side of the road, leaving a lot of distance between your vehicle and the accident scene. This is to give the emergency vehicles room to navigate to the scene. Put on your hazard lights, and stay a safe distance from the scene unless you are planning to assist the victims. Before you do so, check for broken glass, flames, sharp metal, smoke, and oncoming traffic.
Call for Help
Prior to assisting any victims, call 911. Even if you are not sure how badly injured the victims are, or think someone else may have done it already, call 911. Tell them the location of the accident and how badly the people look to be injured.
Assisting the Victims
Once you have made sure that it is safe to approach the victims, you can check on their condition. Unless it is absolutely necessary (such as the car is about to catch fire), do not touch or move an injured person. Doing so usually causes more harm than good. It is also advised not to provide any medical assistance unless necessary. Medical help should be on its way since you called 911.
You can provide comfort to victims by reassuring them that help is on the way, or offer to call family members and friends for them. You can also make sure that the vehicle ignition is turned off to try to prevent fire, and ensure that the vehicle is in “park.” If an at-fault driver attempts to leave the accident scene, you can take note of the person and vehicle, along with a license plate number.
Giving a Witness Statement
Once the police arrive on scene, try to provide every detail you can remember about the accident to them. We recommend that you do not discuss the details of the accident or who may be at fault with the people involved in the accident. Only speaking to the police about the accident can keep tensions and emotions from flaring on scene. You may also want to share details about the accident with medical providers so they can assess how best to provide care to the victims.
Provide your contact information to the police and make efforts to remain available in the days and weeks after the accident to discuss the details with them, insurance agents, and medical providers.
It is Always Your Choice
Whether or not you get involved as a witness to a car accident or help the victims is always your choice. Participating as a witness can help innocent victims get justice for the harm that has been caused to their lives. You can make a difference.