When an auto accident happens right in front of you a lot of thoughts might go through your head. You are now hyper alert to your surroundings. You want to make sure you won’t be involved in the accident. You’re feeling the surge of adrenaline. You may want to keep on your way and remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible, but staying at the scene to be a witness to the accident can be very helpful in many ways.
Being a witness to an accident is voluntary. In the state of Utah, witnesses are not legally obligated to stop and stay at the scene. But morally it might be the right thing to do, especially if the accident was severe. If you decide to help, prioritize your safety. Turn on your hazards, pull off the road and maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the accident. It’s recommended to be at least 100 feet away from the crash as there are a lot of unknowns and hazards at accident scenes including fuel, fire, toxic chemicals, debris, and shattered glass. In addition, a car accident can quickly turn into a bigger pileup if other vehicles approaching the crash fail to stop in time.
Report the accident
Call 9-1-1 to report the accident as soon as possible. Don’t assume someone else will do this. Officers can conduct official duties to control traffic, take information, and determine fault. Medical personnel may be required to offer care to injured individuals.
Secure the scene
If the accident is minor, with the help of other bystanders, get the vehicles involved in the accident to the roadside. This will help clear the road for other motorists, ideally preventing further accidents, and allow emergency vehicles to get to the scene. You should also Instruct motorists to turn engines off to prevent potential fires.
Help accident victims
In severe accident cases, there is potential for serious injury. Passengers can be unconscious, pinned down in a way they can’t get out, or children or infants may need assistance. You should only move crash victims if by not doing so places them in imminent danger, such as a fire at the scene. Moving an injured person can make injuries worse. Emergency personnel has the skills to maneuver injured individuals safely. As a witness you can make sure the scene is secure and try to keep injured individuals calm and still until first responders arrive.
Make an objective statement
Over the years, our St. George car accident attorneys have learned first hand: those involved in the accident will likely not agree on what happened. As a 3rd party observer, you can offer a non-biased account if the incident. An officer will gather a detailed report of the incident including your contact information. Your statement and contact information may be extremely useful later on to victims of the accident who are trying to claim compensation for their injuries and other damages.
When car accident claims gets filed, all details related to these car accident cases may be submitted to the insurance company. This how victims get compensation after an accident. You may get a call from an insurance adjuster to ask you questions about the accident. Now, you aren’t obligated to talk to anyone, but any information provided will help insurance adjusters determine the events as they transpired and fault. If a personal injury lawsuit is filed, you could be contacted weeks or months after the accident to provide witness testimony (learn more about how to make a good witness). Therefore, it’s important to write down notes, take photos or videos of the accident in case you need to recall events.
If you have questions regarding car accidents or personal injury cases, call McMullin Injury Law.