I Witnessed a Car Accident. What Do I Do Now?
If you have witnessed a car crash, you may stay and help out and serve as a witness for any police investigation. Follow the below dos and don’ts to protect you from harm and liability.
Avoid putting yourself in danger.
If there has been an accident, the last thing the world needs is another accident or more injuries. Stopping on the side of the road can be dangerous. A number of first-responders die every single year from being hit by vehicles while they are attempting to help people on the side of the roadway.
If you decide to stop and help at an accident scene, stay safe. Park your vehicle on the shoulder. Do not park on the road. Use your flashers, and if you have children – make sure their needs are met and that they stay safe while you assist the other motorists.
Contact the authorities.
After you have made sure you are safe, call for help. Every accident should be reported to police – no matter how small. Emergency services personnel could use your report of the accident to understand the situation and send help to your location. Those involved in the accident may not be able to call for help.
Do not perform medical treatment – wait for the professionals.
If you are a licensed medical professional, you may be qualified to offer medical assistance before the paramedics arrive on the scene. If you are not a licensed professional, your help could do more harm than good. Some injuries require that patient not be moved lest the injury get worse. Unless you have the skills to handle such injuries, do not attempt to provide medical help besides basic first aid. Simply contact the authorities and let the professionals do their jobs.
Give a truthful statement.
Once you have stopped at the scene of an accident do not leave. Police may want you to give a statement about what you saw and what happened during the accident. Cooperate with police, and always tell the truth to the best of your ability. Provide emergency personnel with your name and contact information.
Be available for follow up statement.
If you have given a statement at the scene of an accident, you may be asked to speak about your statement at other time. You may be asked to help assist in an ongoing police investigation, a trial, or a personal injury case. Witnesses are important. Without them, the justice system will not work. If you have stopped to help with an accident, be prepared to tell your story at any follow-up proceedings. Always tell the truth to the best of your ability. Your recollections may be imperfect but do your best.