What to Do if You Witness an Auto Accident

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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If you witness a car accident, your appropriate course of action will depend on the circumstances of the incident. The first important thing is to make sure you don’t put yourself in danger. After a car accident, especially a serious one, it’s possible that there will be flames, fire or combustibles.

Do not approach the vehicle or get too close until you are certain that the scene of the accident is safe. In fact, you may want to keep your physical distance until a professional gets there if you have any doubt at all about whether there could be danger. You also do not want to exit your own vehicle in the middle of traffic, or leave your vehicle somewhere where it could cause another car accident.

If you suspect or know that an injury occurred to the individuals in the car, immediately call 911. If you believe it is safe to approach the car, you can try to make victims as comfortable as possible. However, you should NOT move them. Moving an injured person can turn a minor injury into a serious one.

When the police arrive at the scene of the accident, give your name to the police and to the parties involved in the accident. You should also consider making notes about what you personally witnessed, as you may be called on to help reconstruct the accident if there are questions about who was at fault. For example, if one party is not being honest about what occurred, you can help the victim by giving a recorded statement to an insurance company. It’s important that you are honest about what you saw, as you will usually be under oath if asked to submit to a deposition or if asked to testify in court. In most circumstances, being a car accident witness and taking measures to relay your testimony will not take much time and your information helps make the roads safer for everyone.

If you witness a hit and run car accident, you should not try to confront the driver, as this could also put you in danger if he or she is violent or angry. Instead, if possible, write down the license plate number of the car that drove off and immediately call 911. You can approach the victim after the hit and run driver has left the scene of the car accident, if it’s safe to do so, and provide any information that you have about the other driver.

If you have any further questions concerning what to do if you witness a car accident, contact an auto accidents attorney.

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