Have you witnessed a car accident? If it is only a minor fender bender, you may not feel compelled to stop and identify yourself as a witness. On the other hand, if it is a “bad” accident you should most definitely pull over and do what you can to help.
Of course, there is a fine line between pulling over and helping and getting in the way. You need to know what you should do in this event as well as when you should step aside.
1. Don’t Cause More Harm Than Good
At the time of an accident, there is going to be a lot going on. There may be injured people. There may be disabled vehicles. You don’t want to cause another accident or put yourself in danger by stopping your car in the wrong place.
Pull over safely, assess the situation, and then decide what to do next.
2. Call the Police (911)
This may not always be necessary, so it is important that you use your best judgment. Are there any injuries? Has the accident led to a fire? You should always err on the side of caution. It is better to have the police on the scene as soon as possible, even if it does not turn out to be an emergency.
3. Don’t Perform Medical Treatment Unless You Know What You are Doing
While it may be tempting to dive in and attempt to help somebody who is hurting, there is a chance that you could make things worse.
There is nothing wrong with comforting somebody until the police and ambulance crew arrive. However, you should never perform medical treatment unless you are trained to do so.
4. Be Honest With the Police
In the event of an accident, there may be conflicting stories as to what happened and who is at fault. This is when you can really help as a witness. Let the police know that you witnessed the accident. Be as accurate as you can with each and every detail.
Note: you should never discuss the accident with those involved. You don’t want to tell somebody they were at fault as it could result in a verbal or physical altercation. Only discuss the accident with the police.
5. Leave Your Contact Info With the Authorities
Just because you have given up some information to the police does not mean your job is done. In the future, you may be contacted by insurance agents, police, or medical personnel to discuss the details of the accident.
Make sure you provide accurate contact information while also making yourself available to speak in the future.
Tip: Don’t change your story the second time around. This will only confuse things for those involved.
Just as nobody wants to be involved in a car accident, being a witness is never fun. You never know when you are going to be put in this unfortunate position, but if the time comes follow the five tips above to ensure that you are as helpful as possible.