What Steps Should You Take if You Witness a Car Accident?
People who witness a serious car accident in Georgia may have mixed feelings. Fear of what you could see may draw you back to the safety of your car, but the urge to help or the guilt of not assisting may motivate you to stop. After all, stopping at the scene of a severe accident and summoning help may save lives and prevent accident victims from suffering life-altering consequences from their injuries.
Although there’s no law stating car accident witnesses must stop at the scene, it may be the right thing to do in some circumstances—especially if there isn’t anyone around to summon help or provide witness testimony when police arrive.
If you witness a vehicle accident, there are several steps you should take to avoid putting yourself at risk while helping victims hurt in the crash.
Not All Accidents Are the Same
What you should do after witnessing a fender bender differs from what you should do if you witness a violent rollover accident. It may not be in your best interest to interfere in a minor accident where no one is injured. You should also be cautious and avoid approaching vehicles leaking fuel or on fire.
What Is Georgia’s Good Samaritan Law?
You may be compelled to help the injured victims when you witness an accident. At the same time, you may hesitate to respond to an emergency for fear of exacerbating the situation and facing legal consequences. This is where the Good Samaritan law comes into play.
Under Georgia law, anyone who responds to an accident and renders help in good faith is protected from liability for their actions. If you witness a car accident and decide to help the victims, you don’t have to worry about the legal consequences. However, putting your safety first before offering assistance to others is important.
What to Do if You Witness a Car Accident
If you witness a car accident, here are the steps you should take:
Make Sure You Are Safe
Pull away from the scene if you notice a car crash and decide to stop. Car accidents can result in broken glass, dangerous fuel leaks, and other hazards. Keeping a safe distance allows you to assess the situation from afar before getting hurt. Ensuring your safety first makes it possible to offer necessary help to the victims.
Once you’ve parked at a safe distance and turned on your hazard lights, it’s time to summon help. Call 911 unless you know authorities have been notified and help is coming. When speaking to the dispatcher, provide as much detail of the accident as possible, including the precise location.
Offer Medical Assistance if Necessary
While you may be tempted to intervene, it’s best to wait for emergency personnel to tend to the victims unless the situation requires emergency intervention. If you believe the victim’s condition isn’t life-threatening, wait for the emergency personnel to arrive (typically, EMTs arrive minutes after calling 911). You can also offer other forms of assistance. For instance, you can offer to call or text the victim’s relatives.
Gather evidence by taking photos and video of the accident scene. The evidence may be helpful when the police officers arrive and help the insurance company understand what happened. If the victim’s personal injury case ever goes to trial, your evidence may play a significant role in the court’s verdict.
Although there’s no financial gain for witnesses, ensuring negligent drivers are held accountable and victims aren’t forced to pay for losses out of their pocket is important for society. You may make a real positive difference in a person’s life by gathering evidence.
Give a Statement
Cooperate with the police by sharing detailed information on what you witnessed. When giving your statement, don’t speculate who is at fault for the crash; instead, stick to facts. If you can’t answer a question, don’t make wild guesses and only share what you do know honestly and without bias.
Provide Contact Information to Parties Involved
Please share your contact information with the victims, law enforcement, insurance companies, and personal injury attorneys if they follow up with you. Your testimony and evidence may play a vital role in the victim’s attempt to recover compensation for their injuries. It’s important to relay the same information you told the police and keep your story unbiased and consistent.
Being a Car Accident Witness Can Be Challenging
Witnessing a severe accident can be jarring, and it’s not uncommon to be shaken up after witnessing the event. If you need help dealing with the trauma, seek professional assistance from a therapist or psychologist. Georgia law allows victims to recover compensation for emotional distress caused by traumatic accidents.
If you witness an accident in Georgia or any other state, remember that you don’t have to put yourself in danger to help victims. However, staying at the scene and summoning help may save lives and prevent accident victims from suffering life-altering consequences from their injuries. Make sure you are safe first before attempting to offer assistance.
Have You Been Hurt in Wreck? Reach Out to an Atlanta Car Accident Attorney
If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident and you wish to seek compensation for your injuries and property damage, a skilled personal injury attorney can help you.
The attorneys at the Dressie Law Firm are here to offer compassionate counsel to those who’ve suffered injuries or lost loved ones in car accidents caused by someone else’s reckless behavior.
At the Dressie Law Firm, we understand how stressful it can be to file a personal injury claim, and we’re here to help. We understand the importance of standing up for your rights and getting compensation for medical bills, lost wages, or other losses. Our attorneys have the experience and skills to handle the most complex car accident cases.
Don’t hesitate to discuss your case with us. Contact the Dressie Law Firm today for a free consultation—we are here to help you get the recovery you deserve!