When witnessing car accidents, most bystanders may freeze, not knowing what to do. This sense of helplessness might have severe consequences, though, especially if your actions can save lives. As the rate of vehicle crashes rises every year, there is a big chance that you may find yourself a key witness someday.
In such dangerous situations, you should do your best to remain calm and assist the victims. Because keeping a level head, in this case, can prove challenging, it helps to have some clear guidelines on what to do at the scene of an accident. Read on to learn more about your responsibility as a bystander.
Contact the Authorities
Many people think that the first thing to do when they witness an accident is to approach the scene and help the victims. While this is a great sentiment, there is really no law which stipulates that bystanders are required to stop and assist the survivors. However, it is usually considered a decent thing to do. Before you decide whether you want to stop or not, you should definitely call the authorities. The average response time of 911 is 15 minutes, which is why most people choose to stay close to the victims and ensure they are safe while they wait for the first responders to arrive. In a nutshell, you are not obligated to stay at the scene but informing the authorities of the accident is always a must.
If you decide to stay and help the survivors, you have to make sure that you are not putting your life at danger first. Because the fatality rate of car accidents is pretty high, such crashes often include many hazards, such as broken glass and metal. In some cases, there might be a gas or fuel leak, which can lead to explosions. If you are driving your car, park it on the side of the road around 10 feet away from the site of the crash, making sure to turn on the hazard lights to alert other drivers to the accident. On the other hand, you should stay in designated areas, such as sidewalks if you are a pedestrian to avoid getting injured.
Jot Down Information
Your role as an eyewitness goes beyond just calling the authorities and checking on victims. According to the information you can access when you visit here, Atlanta lawyers explain that jotting down some important details, such as the model of the cars, their colors, and their number plates are essential for building personal injury cases.
The party at fault is required to compensate the victim, which means that your cooperation and attention to detail can help them fight for their rights. Lawyers then use this information to construct arguments and contact insurance companies. So, you will be doing the injured party a huge favor by writing down such key details.
Assist the Survivors
In most cases, you should not move the victims lest you exacerbate their injuries. Nonetheless, there is no way around this in some situations. If you notice that there is a gas or fuel leak and that the car is about to explode, you should attempt to pull the injured parties to safety. Moreover, you can try using CPR techniques if they have stopped breathing. People with medical training are not held liable by law for trying to save the individuals involved in a car crash. However, you should not attempt CPR if you are untrained unless it is absolutely crucial.
Comfort the Survivors
If providing CPR or moving the victims is not necessary, staying close to them should be enough. After calling 911, you should try to keep the injured parties calm by informing them that help is on the way. You may also ask if they need you to help in any other way, such as contacting a family member or their lawyer. Try to speak in a low voice to bring them comfort and advise them not to move too much to avoid aggravating their injuries.
Don’t Get Involved in Confrontations
Little to no injuries are usually the hallmark of minor car accidents. Such crashes involve material losses rather than fatalities. For this reason, the drivers may start arguing over whose fault it is. This can progress to a physical confrontation. It is important not to interfere as a witness to avoid sticky situations, especially if one of the drivers is overly aggressive. While you should not physically try to stop the drivers from fleeing the scene, you can calmly write down their cars’ information and advise them to wait for the police.
Give the Police Your Statement
When the police arrive, you will be required to give a statement as an eyewitness. To adequately do so, try to describe what happened in as much detail as you can remember. If you are not sure about something or you did not really see the accident taking place, refrain from making any guesses because this can hurt the victim’s chances of getting reimbursed. Even if one of the drivers appears aggressive or has tried to goad you or the other party into a fight, be partial when giving your statement. Overall, avoid taking sides or giving any misleading comments.
Be Ready to Help as a Witness in Case of Personal Injury Lawsuits
If one of the survivors has sustained severe injuries, there is a big chance that they will demand compensation from the other driver. Since the information you have as a witness can tip the scale in their favor, expect the victim’s lawyer to contact you. In case the attorney fails to settle the lawsuit outside of court, you will be asked to testify before a judge. Insurance adjusters may also get in touch with you to ascertain the victim’s story.
Witnessing a car accident can be a horrific experience. However, to be able to assist the survivors, you need to keep your wits about you. While you do not have any legal obligation to stay at the scene, you should, at the very least, call for help to ensure that the victims get the aid they need. If you choose to stick around, however, avoid getting into confrontations or giving unneeded medical aid.