Important Dos And Don'ts For Car Accident Witnesses
Imagine the following scenario: you're driving along a relatively quiet road when you suddenly witness a car accident right in front of your eyes. There aren't many other cars on the road. What do you do? If the accident seemed minor enough, do you drive off and let the drivers handle it? Or do you stick around? There are actually a few important things that you should and should not do in the event of witnessing a car accident--no matter how serious or minor.
DO Turn on Hazards and Check on Drivers
First, do what you can do ensure your own safety by pulling off to the side of the road and turning your hazard lights on. This will alert other motorists to the incident as they pass and hopefully reduce the chances of a rubbernecking accident. When safe to do so, get out of your car and check on the drivers of the other vehicles; even if they seem to be okay, contact your local police so they can come out for a report.
DON'T Move Injured Drivers Unless Necessary
If there are injuries, try to keep the drivers where they are until help arrives. You don't want to further aggravate a neck, back, or other injury by attempting to move the people involved. The only situation in which you should move an injured person would be one that is life-or-death (for example, if the car they're in catches on fire).
DO Offer to Give a Written Statement
Even when emergency crews arrive, you should stick around and offer to provide a written statement to police. Your statement could help to determine who was at fault for the accident, especially if one of the drivers lies about the events that occurred. Understand that if you offer to give a statement, you may very well be called in to testify in court, should the need arise.
DON'T Try to Track Down a Hit-and-Run
Finally, if you witness a hit-and-run accident, do not leave the scene to try and track down the fleeing driver. You could be putting yourself at risk by doing so. Instead, try to get a description of the vehicle, including a license plate number, color, make and model, and/or even a description of the damage to the car. This may help authorities track down the responsible driver later on and ensure that they're held accountable for the accident.
If you are in a car accident, contact a motor vehicle accident lawyer like Shaevitz Shaevitz & Kotzamanis.