As a driver you may be aware of the steps you need to take if you are involved in a collision, however, you may not know what to do if you witness a car accident. According to data from the CDC, every year about three million people are injured as a result of a car accident. Stopping to help a victim in a crash could save their life, and your testimony could also help the parties involved with their car accident claim. It’s important to try and help the victims while also taking care of your own safety.
Steps to Take to Help the Victims
- Pullover and park in a safe place. If you see a car accident happen in front of you, pull over to a safe place and park, make sure you’re far enough so that emergency response vehicles can get to the victims. Turn on the hazard lights on your car to warn other drivers about the accident. Always protect your safety first, do not approach the crashed vehicles if there is smoke or fire.
- Call 911. After you see the accident, call 911 immediately. Approach the vehicles and ask the victims if they have any injuries if they can move on their own guide them to a safe location. Do not move anyone with severe injuries, moving someone with a critical spine or head injury could make it worse. Wait until emergency personnel arrives, they have the expertise on how to move and treat these injuries.
- Wait for help to arrive. Stay with the injured person and offer support until the paramedics arrive. Wait for the police to get there so you can provide an account of what you saw, and they can include it in the police report.
- Pay attention to the crash scene. Be careful walking around broken glass and sharp metal. If you see fluids leaking from the vehicle or a fire starting, move away from the scene of the accident and alert others of the dangers.
- Offer your contact information to everyone involved. Your statement about the accident can help the victims recover compensation for property damage and injuries. Their car accident lawyer can use your statement during the claims process.
Good Samaritan Laws Offer Liability Protection
States have Good Samaritan laws in place to protect people who provide assistance or emergency care to accident victims. If you help someone in an accident and their injuries worsen, you cannot be held liable. Providing assistance in good faith and without compensation at the scene of an accident will likely not make you liable for civil damages. Exceptions to the law include medical personnel aiding victims or if you act with gross negligence.
Your actions during the first minutes after an accident can make a drastic impact on the outcome. Don’t be afraid to offer help to victims during an accident, your actions could help save a life and your testimony can assist them with recovering damages for their injuries. Keep these recommendations in mind if you ever witness a car accident.