The following are a few steps you can follow if you are a witness to an accident:
Safety is Always First
Safety is key. So, before doing anything, make sure you pull over off the road to a safe place and leave enough room between your vehicle and the accident, so emergency vehicles and police can get close. Once off the road, be sure to turn your hazard lights on to alert the other drivers that you are pulled to the side of the road.
If it is safe, you can then exit the car carefully, being mindful of the traffic and surroundings. You can then call for help. Never assume the other parties involved have called. If it is an emergency situation, then every second counts and it is important to call 911 right away for help.
If the situation seems safe and you can get to the vehicles involved in the accident, then cautiously approach them and offer some assistance until help arrives. Even just offering your phone to someone that doesn’t have one, so they can call someone can be a huge help for an accident victim. If they are hurt or trapped, talking to them can often keep them calm and comfortable until help arrives.
Wait for Police to Arrive on the Scene
You will also want to wait for the police to arrive if you witnessed the accident, so you can offer your account of what happened. However, you will still want to be careful- especially while waiting for the police to arrive after you have witnessed what happened. If one of the drivers involved was driving recklessly, they might not want you to stick around to give your statement. If this is the case, be sure to keep your distance.
Legal Obligations as a Witness
Many people often wonder if there are any legal obligations if they witness an accident. Legally, witnessed are not obligated to stay. However, their statement can prove to be extremely helpful when it is time to determine what may have caused the accident.
Since you will be giving a statement as to what you witnessed, it is important to remember any and all of the specific details of the event. Make a note of the time the accident occurred as well as the location. What vehicles were involved? Take note of their make and model and the color.
What is the order of events as you witnessed them? If possible, write out all the details immediately so you can make sure you remember everything accurately. In moments of high stress, you may forget a pivotal detail, so it is important to make a note of everything you can right away while it is fresh on your mind.
Above all, if you witness an accident, the number one priority again is your own safety. You can help and assist the victims any way you can, but first, make sure that you are safe and taken care of.