What Should I Do If I Witness a Car Accident?
Suggestions from Our Experienced Car Accident Attorneys
You often see car accidents on television and in movies. But have you ever considered what you would do if you witness a car accident in real life? As a witness, it is your duty to pull over and call 911 or the police. As a fellow human being, it is your responsibility to help the victims. If the victim is a family member, then you should call car accident attorneys you trust.
So here are the things you should do (and should not do) if you witness a car accident.
- Pull off the road immediately
If you see a car either ahead of you or a short distance behind you get in an accident, then pull off the road immediately. But take care not to stop too close to the crashed vehicles; keep a distance of at least 100 feet in case something happens. Remember that your own safety comes first. Turn on your hazard lights (emergency flashers) to let emergency responders and other drivers know where the collision is.
- Call 911
The first thing you should do after pulling over is to call 911. Don’t assume that somebody has already done it. Even if anyone has, it won’t hurt to call again. Don’t wait to see if someone is seriously hurt or not. Even if the crash doesn’t appear severe, you should notify the concerned authorities. Tell the 911 operator that you witnessed a car crash, the location, approximate time, the number of people involved (doesn’t need to be exact) and other relevant details.
- See if it’s safe to approach the crashed vehicles
Even in the most severe crashes, your own safety should come first. You shouldn’t recklessly risk your life. There is no need to be a hero. Before approaching the crashed car, see if it is even safe to approach in the first place. If it is already on fire or looks like it is about to explode, then do not go near it. Stay at a safe distance until the emergency responders arrive.
- Check the condition of the injured vehicle occupants
If it is safe to approach the crashed cars, then go and check the condition of the occupants of the cars. But unless they are in imminent danger, such as being burned alive, do not pull them out. If an injured person is already out of the car and lying on the road, do not move them. Moving an injured person incorrectly often makes the injury worse. Also, you may get sued by the victim if something goes wrong. If someone is hurt but able to walk, then help him or her get to a safe place.
- Assist the driver in moving the car out of the traffic lane
The highway is no place for stationary objects, such as a crashed car. Oncoming vehicles often zoom past without stopping or slowing down. If the traffic is heavy, there may be a traffic jam. So help the driver, if he is not too badly injured, to move the car out of the traffic lane to the side of the road. But do not drive the car yourself unless told to do so by a responding police officer or emergency worker. It’s alright to help people, but you may find yourself on the wrong side of the law if something goes awry.
- Take a few pictures
If you have a camera or a cellphone, then take a few pictures of the crashed vehicles. You will be doing the people involved in the accident as well as law enforcement officers a service. In the process, you will help yourself because the officers will play an essential role in determining who was at fault. Be prepared to hand the pictures over to the drivers and the law enforcement officers if you are asked to or even without being asked.
- Give a statement to the police
When the police officers arrive, they will want to know how the accident happened and other relevant details. Let them know that you are a witness and tell them the facts exactly as you saw them. Do not lie or exaggerate. Do not hide anything. Be factual and consistent. Give them your phone number and contact address. In the following days, you may be contacted as a witness by the court, medical authorities and insurance companies.
No one is immune from accidents. One day you may be a witness and another day you may be involved in an accident yourself. You should always know who to call in case of an injury, and the names of some premier car accident attorneys should be at the top of the list.
Our lawyers have decades of experience in providing excellent results in these areas of practice.