If you witness a car accident, ensuring your own safety should be your primary objective. Pull your vehicle over to the side of road, at least 100 feet away from the scene and turn your hazard lights on. Keeping yourself and your vehicle a safe distance away from the scene limits your chances of encountering fuel, broken glass, and flames that might be present after the accident. In addition to your own safety, parking a safe distance away from the scene provides ample room for emergency services.
Once your vehicle is a safe distance away, avoid the path of incoming vehicles. Particularly if you plan to make your way over to those involved in the accident.
Should I Call the Police?
You should call the proper authorities if you witness a car accident. The police must be made aware of collisions, and you should not assume one of the victims called 911 no matter the severity of the accident.
Be prepared to tell the operator:
- That you witnessed an accident
- That you and your vehicle are safe
- The location of the accident
- The number of vehicles involved in the accident
- If anyone involved sustained injuries
Should I Help the People Involved in the Accident?
Florida’s laws do not require you to aid those involved in car accidents, but its Good Samaritan laws offer protections if you choose to help. Florida’s Good Samaritan Act dictates that any person, whether they are licensed medical professionals or not, are not liable if acting in response to emergency situations. The law is only applicable if the victim does not protest, and if the Good Samaritan acts in good faith. The Good Samaritan Act does not apply to actions that create an unreasonable risk of injury or exacerbates injuries.
However, while the Good Samaritan Act does offer protections to all, its primary intention is encouraging medical professionals to provide aid in emergency situations. So, if you are not a medical professional, it is best not to move victims unless necessary. But if you are a trained professional, you can do your best to improve the victims’ conditions.
Do I Have to Submit a Statement?
Expect the police to request a statement when they arrive. The police need to gather as much information as possible about the accident, and your statement may be key in determining fault or identifying any traffic infractions.
Keep the following in mind if asked for a statement:
- Take your time to think about what happened
- Be clear in your responses
- Don’t take sides or make assumptions
- Be prepared to provide contact information
In addition to the police, it is possible that you will receive calls from insurers and attorneys seeking additional statements. As with the police, being honest and clear about the collision is important when speaking to them.
Car accidents are stressful for all parties, including witnesses. If you witness a car accident, keeping the preceding steps in mind can make it a smoother experience for all.