Automobile accidents are indeed deeply traumatic for the victims but witnessing one is also nothing short of torture. Most people don’t even know how to respond to such events, many panic at the site, while others get rattled by the mess before them.
However, the role of a witness is of immense value to any car accident case. Your words and observations will allow the decision-makers to better visualize how the whole thing happened, thus putting them in a better decision-making position.
As a car accident witness, you owe the other party a set of responsibilities, not legally, but rather on a humanitarian level. Even if you have nothing to gain from it, materialistically, you should not inch back from helping those in need because karma is real.
Witnesses are often more relevant to an accident case than the victim. This may be the case if the accident victim was incapacitated or unconscious after the accident, or in any number of scenarios where the victim failed to gather the details (hit-and-run cases being one example).
In such cases, the witnesses will become instrumental for the case to get a foundation. Whatever you can remember will be of immense value, and may even help the victim secure a fair settlement from the at-fault party.
Even in non-extreme cases, witness testimonies can ensure complete fairness and offer a third-person angle into the tussle, thus allowing the decision-makers to reach an agreeable conclusion.
Witnessing a car accident can be highly shocking, and if you’re shaken by the sight, we won’t judge you – it happens. Take a couple of deep breaths to flush your body with soothing fresh air, park your vehicle safely away from the accident scene, on the side of the road, and then get started with the following steps:
It is a legal requirement in all states to inform the police whenever an accident happens. Even if the crash was only moderately intense, you should not think twice before calling law enforcement. And don’t hold back thinking that someone else may have called the police already, it’s okay even if someone has and you do as well.
When you get to speak with the dispatcher, let them know where exactly the crash happened, and throw in a brief description of the accident scene and the vehicles involved. After that, you’ll have to wait for the reporting officers and emergency responders to show up.
If it is safe to approach the vehicles, then go ahead and reach out to the people involved in the accident. A victim can suffer from multiple traumas such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, concussions, whiplash, muscle damage, bone fractures, and much more, and may thus be unable to get out of the vehicle on their own.
If you suspect that the vehicle may catch on fire (there is smoke coming out), help the injured person exit it and reach a safe distance. Avoid moving the patient unless they face an imminent threat where they are.
Licensed nurses, doctors, and EMT professionals can use their medical knowledge to offer emergency medical assistance to crash victims. You will not face any civil liability for offering this emergency care, and you are not legally required to do so, but again, it is a matter of humanity rather than a legal requirement.
Of course, this emergency care part only applies to trained medical professionals who have the necessary equipment. However, certain actions are a bit general and anyone can and should do them, i.e. stopping the bleeding with towels or any other piece of cloth.
Just keep the victim comfortable, as much as possible, and let them know that help is only a couple of minutes in the coming.
In most motor vehicle accident cases that don’t result in severe injuries, the confrontation between the two parties can become violent. You should never try to intervene here, instead, maintain a safe distance because you never know what may happen.
From a safe distance, you should note down all the details that matter such as the numbers of both license plates, the make and models of the cars, their colors, and so on. This information will come in handy in case if one of the drivers flees the scene.
The police will benefit immensely from your observations.
Lastly, when the reporting officers show up, share with them all of your observations. Share details of the accident, how it happened (no need to say who was at-fault but do state the cause of accident, i.e. one of them was texting while driving, over-speeding, etc.), and other relevant details.
Be truthful here, and if some details are eluding your memory, tell the officers that you will share those missing points as soon as you can remember them.
This part is for the accident victims.
The witnesses present on the accident scene can only do so much for your case, it is your case after all, so be sure to proceed with legal action as soon as possible. Once you’re patched up and ready to go, contact experienced personal injury attorneys to get started with securing fair compensation for your losses.
Most people are discouraged by the idea of hiring lawyers as they think that paying them in such economically challenging times may be a bit impractical. Of course, it is indeed impractical. That’s why you don’t have to do it – the payment, not the hiring.
Calhoun, Meredith, & Sims offer complete flexibility in terms of payment, and we can work on a contingency fee agreement as well. We won’t charge you for consultation either, so feel free to reach out, and we’ll handle everything from there!