What to Do After Witnessing a Car Accident
If you witness a car accident, you may not be sure about the next step, especially when the accident appears severe and traumatic. Your actions as a car accident witness can vary by the situation.
There are some steps you can take to prepare and know how to help the accident victims until the police and other emergency responders arrive at the accident scene.
At LA Century Law, we work with people who witnessed your car crash to protect the integrity of your case.
Things to Do After Witnessing a Car Accident
We’ve prepared some guidelines on what to do after witnessing a car accident.
Do you have to stop after seeing a car accident?
One of the primary questions many accident witnesses ask is, “do you have to stop if you witness a car accident”? In California, you are not legally required to stop. The decision is up to you. However, many witnesses stop to help. Here is what to do when you decide to stop.
Secure your safety
Your safety comes first. If you are driving and decide to stop for an accident, pull over your car and put on your hazard lights. If you are a pedestrian, stay on the sidewalks for a few minutes until the vehicles have room to navigate. Be sure the area is safe and visible to other drivers before you move closer and render your aid to the victims.
Check on the victims
Depending on the accident’s severity, you can decide to check on the victims and offer aid where you can. While the scene can be emotionally draining, you should be careful when offering help to avoid causing more injury to the victims. For instance, moving a victim could worsen the injury despite your good intentions to help.
Call 911 immediately
If you notice severe injuries or damage, it is important to call 911 as soon as possible. You could still contact the authorities even if you are not sure of the extent of the injuries or damage incurred. You can call or task someone who stopped to help you call. Give the authorities clear details about the location and nature of the accident.
Offer other forms of assistance
As you wait for the emergency responders to arrive, you can help the victim with certain things they may not be able to do alone due to the injuries incurred. Probably, the victim wants you to call their relatives to inform them about the accident. Offer the assistance you can.
Cooperate with the authorities
Once the police arrive at the scene, provide every detail about what you saw. The police will likely record a statement and release you. However, you may be contacted later by lawyers, insurance companies, or doctors as a witness.
What Not to Do After Witnessing a Car Accident
Knowing what you shouldn’t do can help you make informed decisions after witnessing a car accident. Remember, no law in California requires an accident witness to stop at the accident scene. If you decide to stop, it is because you want to help the victims. Being the first person to arrive at the scene can be very helpful to the victims.
Don’t rush to the accident area
While you may want to help the accident victims, avoid rushing to the scene because this might cause you injuries. There could be broken glass, sharp metal, and other debris, so you should examine the area before you move closer to help the victims.
Don’t be afraid to help
If you notice that the victim is in dire need, do not fear the liability. You shouldn’t be afraid of civil charges if you offer help in good faith. Your aid might be beneficial to the victim even as you wait for the emergency responders to arrive.
Don’t coerce people to accept fault
Don’t force anyone to accept the accident liability if you are unsure who is at fault. Focus on giving facts based on what you witnessed. Also, don’t feel pressured to provide information to every question. Avoid guessing answers if you are not sure.
Don’t offer medical help if you’re unqualified
If you notice the victim is severely injured, avoid moving them because you might cause more injuries. Wait for the emergency personnel to arrive and take charge of the medical aid. Most response teams arrive after a few minutes. In many cases, first aid can wait.
Car Accident Witness Depositions and Testimony
A deposition is the process where a witness can be interviewed by the defendant or the plaintiff’s lawyer following a car accident. If you are the witness, you might be “deposed” by either party.
This process occurs in a conference room, primarily in the lawyer’s office rather than the courtroom. The attorney will question you about what happened during the accident as the court reporter records the conversation.
Deposition happens under oath. For this reason, it is imperative to give truthful information and avoid giving details that can compromise the case. The information gathered will be used if the case goes to trial, and you might be called a trial witness.
LA Century Law Helps Car Accident Victims
Knowing what to do after witnessing a car accident can save a life. Witness statements can also help the accident victim when filing a claim. This can increase the chances of compensation for someone’s injuries and damages incurred. Attorneys on behalf of an injured car accident victim may also use witness testimony or information in cases.
If you or a loved one got involved in a car accident due to negligence from another driver, speak to an experienced car accident attorney to represent you. At LA Century Law, we have experienced car accident attorneys who can advise you, fight for you and protect your rights after a car accident. Contact us for a free case evaluation.
FAQs About Car Accident Witnesses
Can a passenger be a witness in a car accident?
A vehicle passenger can be a witness. They should give truthful information without sounding biased. The witness must have seen what happened before, during, and after the accident.
What kind of questions will the witness answer during the deposition?
As a witness, you will answer multiple questions based on the circumstances of the case. The questions revolve around what you saw before, during, and after the accident.
Who can qualify as a car accident witness?
Anyone who saw what happened during the accident can be a witness. The witness should be sure they saw what happened and be ready to give truthful information.