Steps to Take If You Witness a Car Accident
Being in a car accident is scary. Witnessing a car accident can be nerve-wracking as well because you might want to help those involved but don’t know how and end up doing more harm than good. Since the people involved in the accident could be injured and unable to contact emergency services, your help could be crucial in saving them from their situation. It’s important to know the steps to take if you witness a car accident so you can help anyone involved while keeping yourself out of harm’s way.
Over 300,000 motor vehicle crashes occurred in Illinois in 2017, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation, so you should know what to do just in case you witness one of those crashes. Here’s what you should do to help if you witness a car accident:
Pull Over to a Safe Spot
You can’t help the situation if you are also in harm’s way. You should safely pull around the scene of the accident and get to the side of the road a safe distance away. Then, put on your hazard lights. Keeping your car far away will make sure you are not causing another accident or in the way of glass, other debris, or a fuel leak. Once you’re pulled over to a safe spot, you can make a call.
If the accident caused enough damage that you felt like you needed to pull over to help, then you should call 911 to get emergency services on the scene to help the victims and file a report. Never assume that someone else has already called 911. You’ll want to be as specific as possible on the phone, so you should include the location of the accident, the cars involved, how many people you think were involved, and any other information you have that can help the operator. Even though you’re recounting what happened, don’t include who you think was at fault for the accident—stick to objective facts.
Throughout the entire process, it’s important that you stay calm. The 911 operator will not be able to understand you if you are panicking. Take deep breaths and stay calm so you can accurately portray the necessary information to get the victims help. You’ll also want to stay calm throughout the rest of the process because your panic could also cause the victims to panic and make everything worse.
Help the Victims If Possible
After carefully approaching the scene, you can talk to the victims to keep them calm and ask them if they think they have any injuries. If they’re injured, advise them not to move unless they are in immediate danger of a fire. Otherwise, if they don’t think they’re injured, you can offer them help to get out of the car and to the side of the road where they will be safer.
What’s important here is that you don’t provide medical treatment to accident victims unless you are a licensed professional. If you cause further injuries to anyone hurt in the accident, the victims could then sue you for injuring them with your negligent actions. Since you’ve already called 911, wait for the medical professionals to arrive on the scene and provide any medical care that is necessary.
Move Damaged Vehicles Out of the Way If Possible
If the people involved in the crash were not injured, and the cars are not on or about to catch fire, your next step should be attempting to move the cars out of the roadway. Help the drivers navigate to the side of the road before turning the engines off.
Talk to the Police
When emergency services arrive, the police will want witness statements for their report. Much like the 911 call, you should only include objective facts about what happened, not your opinion on who was at fault. This could place blame on the wrong party when something else was at fault, like a defective car part. Give the police your name and contact information so they can follow up with you later if they need to.
You should also give the accident victims your contact information so you could be a witness for them later on. When you give your story, the best way to stay consistent is to tell the truth. Avoid including your opinions, like you assuming they were distracted, and stick to the facts of what happened, for example you saw them on the phone, so your story is the most helpful that it can be to everyone involved.
Prince Law Firm Can Help You
Car accidents can be physically, emotionally, and financially devastating for the victims involved, and can even cause emotional trauma for witnesses. When you weren’t at fault for the collision, you may feel it’s unfair for you to have to carry the financial toll of your injuries since you didn’t cause them. At Prince Law Firm, we agree with you.
Even though filing a car accident claim may seem like a large undertaking while you’re physically and emotionally recovering from your crash, the liable party should be held responsible for your injuries. A Marion car accident lawyer from our firm can help you recover compensation for your financial burdens caused by the accident, like medical bills and lost wages. With us on your side, you can focus on healing. Get in touch with us today so we can discuss your potential case.