What Do I Do if I Witness a Car Accident?
Witnessing a car accident can be very scary and distressing. It is normal not to know what to do in the unfortunate event that you witness a car accident, so it is okay to feel emotional and distressed. It is very important to remain calm no matter what happens. The best thing for you to do is to be calm and helpful when assessing the situation.
Your number one priority is to look after your own safety. You do not want to risk your life crossing a busy freeway or getting near a car that might burst into flames.
Your very first step should be to drive your car to the shoulder and turn on your hazard lights while you assess the situation. Do not think about fault or judge the situation as you do not know all the information and need to remain impartial and calm. This is a good time to break out your emergency kit, especially if it is night. You might need to set up traffic triangles to warn other drivers of the accident. Stay calm and use your best judgment based on the situation.
First, call 911
This is the most important step and you will need to take it right away. Remember to be as calm and helpful as you can while talking to dispatch. You will also need to be prepared for questions about the situation, your location, and whether or not you think anyone has been injured.
Check on those involved in the accident
If it is possible, you can check on those involved in the car accident. But do not move any of the injured unless they are in immediate danger of an explosion or other hazard. Moving injured victims might make their injuries worse or further complicate the situation.
Fortunately, Georgia’s Good Samaritan laws should protect you if you need to move someone in an emergency situation. In Georgia, Good Samaritan laws protect medical personnel or bystanders from lawsuits if they make a mistake while helping someone in an emergency.
If you do not have medical training, do not touch or move someone who is injured in a car accident. Instead, you can talk to someone who is injured or unable to move and ask them questions to keep them conscious and alert until medical personnel arrive. It can be very helpful to provide comfort to a car accident victim by telling them your name and assuring them that help is on the way.
Document what you see
Be sure to take many pictures and videos after you have taken the first two steps. By documenting what you see, you are helping the victims of the accident when they need to make insurance claims or fight for justice in the aftermath of the situation.
Stabilize the vehicle
While you do not want to get behind the wheel or drive someone else’s car, you can help to stabilize any vehicle, if necessary. If any of the cars involved in the accident are blocking a road or traffic, you can try to move them.
This might also be a good time to use the traffic triangles or flares to warn other drivers of the situation.
If the accident is fairly minor, you can ask the driver to put the vehicle in “park” and turn the ignition off. This action can help prevent fires and explosions after impact as crashes often cause oil or fuel leaks.
In the case of a major accident in which smoke is coming from the vehicle, stay away. Gasoline and electric fires are extremely dangerous and can get out of control, fast.
Only help if necessary
It is very important not to intervene unless necessary. Good Samaritan laws will protect you if your actions are necessary, but do not get involved if you do not have to.
Again, the most helpful thing for you to do is call 911, check on the injured, and document the situation as best you can.
Remain on the scene
If you can, try to remain on the scene to speak with the police and any medical personnel when they arrive. This can be very helpful especially if the victims of the crash are injured, unconscious, or otherwise unable to interact with the responders. As a witness, you can share what you saw of the accident and provide any other details.
Provide contact info
If you can, try to provide your contact information to the victims of the accident and those who responded to the scene. This is very helpful if the police need to follow up with you about what you witnessed. The victims might want to contact you as well if they find themselves filing a criminal or personal injury lawsuit.
Be prepared to follow up
Be prepared to follow up with the victims or medical and law responders any time after the event. You might be asked to speak with insurance companies or attorneys about your perspective of what happened.
If you have witnessed or been the victim of a car accident, please call Lamar Law Office at 877-227-3404. We are a law firm experienced in personal injury lawsuits and ready to fight for the needs of our clients.