Witnessing a car accident can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if the accident was more than a simple “fender bender.” You are not obligated by law to stop at the scene of an accident, unless you were involved in it. However, pulling over to see if everyone is OK and providing an accurate statement to the police can help protect victims’ rights.
If You Witness a Car Accident:
- Pull over (but be safe in doing so.)You should pull over to the side of the road and put on your hazard signal. However, be careful that in doing so, you don’t inadvertently cause another accident or put yourself at risk. Keep a safe distance between the accident and your car in case of a fire or explosion. This will also help keep the area clear for first responders.
- Call 911. Don’t assume that someone else has called 911 already. Contact emergency services to report the accident, providing your name when asked and letting the dispatcher know exactly where the accident occurred. If you think there are injuries, be sure to let the 911 operator know that.
- Approach the scene of the accident. If it’s safe to do so after you’ve called 911, you can approach the accident on foot to see if everyone is OK.
- Provide help if you’re able and comfortable. If you feel comfortable doing so, you can attempt to get the accident victims out of harm’s way, help stop major bleeding, administer CPR or provide other emergency care to victims while you wait for an ambulance to arrive. Wisconsin’s “Good Samaritan” lawsays people who attempt to provide good faith emergency care at the scene of an accident while waiting for first responders cannot be held civilly liable if something goes wrong, so don’t worry about being sued for trying to help.
- Stay calm. You can also help victims by simply staying calm as you wait for police and paramedics to arrive. When the ambulance gets there, step aside and let the professionals do their jobs.
- Tell the police what happened. When the police arrive on the scene, you should cooperate with them as much as possible. Provide your contact information and tell them, in your own words, what you saw. Be factual and complete in making your statement.
- Understand you may be contacted. As a witness to an accident, you may be contacted later by the police, insurance adjusters, attorneys, or others. Answering their questions and being cooperative can help protect the accident victims’ rights.
Witness’ statements can play key roles in clarifying what actually happened in an accident. Gingras, Thomsen & Wachs, LLP works with accident witnesses regularly as they help car collision victims recover the compensation Wisconsin law says they are entitled to. To learn more, contact the firm today in Madison, Milwaukee, or Eau Claire.