What Do You Do When You Witness A Car Accident?
Let’s face it, no one wants to be involved in a car accident; especially one that causes you injuries. As we all know, car accidents run the gamut from minor fender benders to serious crashes resulting in serious injuries or worse. But by the very nature of car accidents, we often don’t have a vote on whether we are involved in one or not. If someone slams into your car because they were not paying attention, distracted, texting, making a phone call, or even worse, drunk driving, you will become an instant victim of their making. You did not volunteer for this “privilege”, but all the same, you are now fully vested in this unfortunate event.
I want you to keep the above description in mind the next time you either witness an accident or drive by others who have been involved in car accidents. If circumstances where a bit different, this could be you, your family, your friends and neighbors.
Now, I am not suggesting that you should pull over anytime you drive by a car accident scene. In fact, I suspect if we all did that it would likely exacerbate the situation. What I am recommending is the following:
If you did not witness the car accident: Use your common sense and compassion. If none of the people involved appear to be seriously injured; keep going. Don’t stare at them (you wouldn’t want them to stare at you). Drive slowly as you pass by. Don’t stop and create even more of a traffic problem. However, if you are medically trained and you observe signs of injury which you are qualified to handle, you should consider offering your assistance.
If you DID witness the accident: Pull over where it is safe. Go to the drivers involved in the accident and offer them your contact information. While liability is not disputed in many cases, some are more difficult to ascertain than others. It is often helpful to have an independent party provide their version of the accident details so as to clear up any confusion or disputes. This kind helpful assistance would only take a few moments of your time and can make all the difference in ensuring the victim of the accident is not incorrectly assessed with fault.
I can’t tell you how many times my clients tell me that there were many people who witnessed the car accident but not a single person stopped to offer their contact information. I realize most of us “don’t want to get involved”. But again, you have to consider the ramifications of your apathy. If your spouse, child, parent, or friend was in an accident and the other party was at fault, wouldn’t you stop to give them your information? What if the insurance company for the at-fault driver denied liability because they claim the victim has no real proof of liability (and this happens all the time). Now, the victim is forced to spend money and time to hire investigators, accident reconstructionist, and other experts to try and provide evidence that a witness could have provided much quicker.
Next time you witness a car accident, a bike accident, pedestrian accident or other similar accident, remember you can help. And I would argue you should help! It would not take more than five minutes to pull over and offer your contact information and that could make all the difference to the victim of someone else’s negligence. You would want them to do that for you, wouldn’t you?
The above information is NOT a substitute for legal advice and should not be interpreted as the dissemination of legal advice. It is only meant as general guidance on various issues which may be applicable to your situation. It is critical that you consult with an experienced attorney before taking any legal action or have specific questions addressing your particular case answered