You’re walking along the street or driving in your car—seemingly out of nowhere, a car accident occurs right in front of you!
This is a terrible thing to see, but what can you do to help? Witnessing a car accident is something that can happen to anyone, at any time, so it’s helpful to be prepared.
By acting quickly, witnesses can call for help, comfort others, and provide an accurate statement to the police about what they saw.
Ready to learn more? If so, keep reading to find out what to do and how to deal with witnessing a car accident.
After Witnessing a Car Accident, Call 911
Are you wondering what to do when you witness a car accident? Our first tip is to immediately call 911. You want emergency help and rescue to arrive on the scene as soon as possible, especially if you suspect that injuries might have occurred.
When calling 911, try to give as much detail as possible about the location. Include cross streets, landmarks, or specific details that will make it easy for police to find the scene—this is very important in remote areas or late at night, when it’s hard to see.
In busy areas, a crash might have multiple witnesses, with several people calling 911. This is ok! It’s important that witnesses do the right thing, and if it turns out that the accident has already been reported, the dispatcher will let you know.
Put Your Own Safety First
Before you can try to help others, you need to put your own safety first. For example, if you were driving and you pulled over after the crash, make sure to move your car out of the road and to a safe place.
Never cross busy roads or do anything reckless in an attempt to help. Although it’s admirable that you want to help, don’t risk your own safety after witnessing an accident.
Offer Assistance, If You Can
If you’re the only one on the scene at the accident, assess the scene for injuries. If you’re comfortable doing so, you might want to help with first-aid, if the car accident victims need help.
Keep in mind that head and back injuries are common after an accident. If someone shows head injury symptoms, like dizziness, confusion, a headache, or balance problems, encourage them to stay seated and not move until paramedics arrive.
When it comes to back and spinal injuries, moving a victim can actually make their injury worse, so never move them unless a paramedic says it’s safe. Instead, comfort the person and let them know that help is on the way.
Give a Statement to the Police
Once the police arrive, you’ll probably be asked to give a statement. As a witness, your account of the accident is important, since it’s unbiased.
Often, both drivers claim different causes for the accident, blaming one another. This makes it hard for the police to work out who is at fault, which is why witness statements are so important.
When talking to the police, be honest, explaining exactly what you saw. If you can remember exact timing or any other key details that would help, let them know as much as you can.
The police are likely to ask for your contact details as well, in case they have any further questions.
Document the Accident
While you’re on the scene, it can be helpful to take a few photos or videos of the accident scene. This can help police, lawyers, and the other drivers better work out what’s happened.
If the case goes to court, you might be called to testify as a witness, in which case your photos will be helpful for reminding you of the accident—which might have happened months before.
Your testimony may make a difference in the outcome of the case. As a car accident victim, what happens if you lose a car accident lawsuit?
Generally, it means you won’t be awarded any additional compensation, but hopefully your own insurance company has covered your expenses to a point.
It can be stressful and scary to see a car accident, especially if you’re the only one around. Take a few deep breaths and do your best to remain calm!
Tempers can run high after an accident as well, so you might want to try to calm down any agitated drivers or passengers, explaining that the police will arrive soon and can help.
Seek Additional Support, If Needed
After the car accident, you may find yourself thinking about it often. This happens frequently after traumatic accidents or those that involve serious injury or death.
Some witnesses might even experience post-traumatic stress, which makes it hard to live a normal life, due to the stress of what they saw. If you’re feeling this way, the best thing to do is seek professional help.
Talk to a therapist or counselor who can help you process what you saw and help you learn how to cope.
Follow These Steps if You’re Ever a Car Accident Witness
After witnessing a car accident, use the guide above to know what to do. While it’s sure to be an emotional and surprising thing, you can do your best to help others by following the above tips.
Hopefully, it’s not something you’ll ever experience, but if you do, it’s good to be prepared. Plus, the other drivers are sure to appreciate the care and effort you took to help them.
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