The Role of Witnesses in Car Accident Cases
Posted on July 19, 2023
Witnessing a car accident can be stressful, but staying calm and being aware of your surroundings is essential.
Car accidents tend to happen when you least expect them. If you choose to assist the car crash victim, it is wise to know what you should do to be useful in such a traumatic time. The extent to which you can help will greatly depend on the extent of the injuries and the severity of the crash.
If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident due to another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Our personal injury lawyer at the King Law Firm is available to help victims of car accident collisions file a personal injury lawsuit.
If you are a car accident witness, however, there are some general guidelines that you can follow. These tips will allow you to be better prepared to assist your fellow drivers until the first responders arrive.
Your Safety Comes First
Your first and primary concern needs to be the safety of yourself and any passengers in your vehicle. You are not required to stop and assist in the case of a car accident, but if you choose to help, you may save a victim’s life, help hold the negligent party accountable for their actions, and contribute to the case for the accident victim.
If you are on the road and witness a car accident, pull your vehicle to the side of the road, ensuring a distance of 100 feet or more from the accident scene, and be sure to use your hazard lights. Keep yourself a safe distance from the accident so you do not put yourself in danger of leaked fuel, flames, or shattered glass.
Take a deep breath and prepare yourself to render aid to any victims who may need immediate attention. Try to avoid confrontation with any involved drivers or other witnesses.
Call For Emergency Services (911)
It is a common occurrence for witnesses to assume that another driver has already called 911. Refrain from assuming this. Always call for emergency personnel and police officers after you witness a car accident. No matter the severity of the car accident, the authorities should be notified so they can offer emergency assistance. Tell the 911 operator you witnessed a motor vehicle accident, the number of people involved, the location, and any other relevant details.
The responding police officer will arrive at the scene to render assistance and complete an accident report. The officer may ask you for your statement regarding what you saw immediately before the accident.
Check on the Crash Victims
After you have called 911 and ensured that it is safe to approach the accident scene, check on the condition of the victims, determine whether anyone else has suffered injuries, and offer assistance if you are able to do so. This may be an emotionally driven situation, but try to stay focused on the facts. It is not the time to make judgments or attempt to find out who may be at fault for the accident.
Unless the vehicle is at risk of catching fire or is in water, never move an injured person. There could be injuries that are not immediately visible, and you could worsen the victim’s condition. You can help by providing comfort to the victims and reassuring them that trained medical assistance is on the way.
Inspect The Vehicles and Gather Contact Information
Once you have tended to any immediate medical needs, you should check on other drivers or passengers to see if they need any assistance. It is vital to make sure the vehicle is placed in park with the ignition turned off. Doing this will reduce any chances of an oil spill, which could result in a fire or explosion. Take photographs and video of the accident scene, making note of the license plate numbers of the vehicles that were involved.
Exchange information with the drivers before you leave. This information will go on file in the police report and can assist the parties involved in filing an automobile accident insurance claim.
Unfortunately, some drivers may attempt to flee the scene before any of their personal information is acquired, leading to a hit-and-run situation. Inform the police officer on the scene of any information you can give about a fleeing driver.
These four steps should help you in case you witness a motor vehicle accident. If you need assistance or have any questions after an accident, you can contact us.
What Happens After the Accident?
Following the event, you may be contacted by lawyers and insurance claims agents as a witness to the motor vehicle accident. It is important that you be factual, consistent, and honest with any statements you give.
You may be asked to give your testimony if there is a potential lawsuit. This occurs during a deposition, which is an interview taken under oath, where you will give answers to questions that will be asked by both parties to the car accident case.
While you may feel intimidated, it is imperative that you share what you saw, as it could help conclude who is at fault and aid injured victims in receiving the compensation they deserve. It is, however, rare for personal injury cases to make it to trial. The majority of cases are settled pre-trial.
Again, the responsibility of a car accident witness is to give truthful answers, as your testimony may be critical for getting justice for an injured victim.
Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one have been a victim of a car accident in Ventura, CA, or the surrounding area, the team at the King Law Firm can offer our extensive experience in achieving the justice and compensation you deserve. Call us at any of our locations today for a free legal consultation to discuss your options. Or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation as soon as possible.