When it comes to seeing others in trouble, most of us fall into one of three categories – the people who walk away and do nothing, the ones who look but don’t help, and those who are kind enough to offer assistance.
If you fall into the third category and are unfortunate enough to witness a car accident, you’re going to want to help, being the kind person that you are. Here’s what you should do.
What to Do If You Witness a Car Accident
Don’t Put Yourself in Danger
First and foremost, as much as you want to help, you can’t risk your own life. Before rushing over to the scene, carefully check if there is any fuel on the road close to a naked flame, or if the vehicles may be in a precarious position.
Next, check if you will be subjected to bodily fluids, in particular blood. You can’t put yourself into a situation that could give you some form of infection, or worse.
If it appears that physically you can enter the scene, go ahead and help out.
Whether you’re first on the scene or not, it’s crucial that someone contacts 911. Police, ambulance, and maybe the fire brigade all need to be alerted to the incident. It’s highly likely those involved in the accident are too injured or shocked to have the ability to do this.
Stay around. When the police finally arrive, they’ll need to take your statement. Be very careful not to lay blame on any of those involved, just report the facts as you witnessed them.
Most likely, you’ll be a vital witness to the events. Prior to emergency vehicles arriving, somebody needs to take photographs of the scene. These will be very important later if the incident makes it to court, or there’s an insurance dispute.
Look for things that will be reported or could be misconstrued. Take as many photos as possible of the external and internal scenes. Remember, though, to be sympathetic to any loss of life. Survivors may not appreciate you taking pictures of the deceased.
Hopefully, the people involved in the accident aren’t seriously injured. However, they’ll likely be in some stage of shock. Perhaps some of the best assistance you can give is emotional support. You can do rational thinking for them, something that they may not be able to do themselves right now.
Ensure that they are aware of where they are, what happened, and what they need to do next. Calls to relatives, tow-truck drivers (if required), and insurance companies should be the top priorities after contacting emergency services. It would help if you also reminded them that for these reasons, they should contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
Be Prepared To Help Out
You’ve been one in a rare number of people who stop and help in a situation like this. You’ve checked out the scene to ensure it’s safe for you to approach and made sure that emergency services are on the way. Once you’ve seen that injured parties are tended to, take some photographs, and give your statement to those who will need it.
Be prepared to be even more helpful, as later on, you might be contacted to provide witness testimony if the incident becomes a court case. It won’t always be easy to do the right thing, but this will be your time to contribute to the society in some way.