What to Do if You Witness a Car Accident
One day you may driving on what has been an uneventful journey when you suddenly witness a car accident that occurs right in front of you. This sudden turn of events is something that most drivers rarely experience, so it is unsurprising if you would not be sure of what to do next. You may be torn between wanting to attempt to help but also wondering whether doing so will compromise you financially or legally.
Am I Legally Obligated to Stop?
Generally speaking, no. There is no law in the state of Florida that obligates everyday citizens to stop and render aid. However, you should also understand that if you are involved in the accident in any way, you actually DO have a legal obligation to stop. If you don’t, you can incur criminal liability. Therefore, you should always pull over if you witness an accident and are unsure whether your vehicle was involved as it is better to be safe than sorry.
Can I Incur Civil Liability if I Pull Over to Help?
The answer to this is almost always “no”. The state of Florida understands that people often hesitate to help accident victims because they are afraid of placing themselves in a position where they can later be sued and this is why there is a Good Samaritan Act. Under this Act, you can’t be sued for civil damages for results of emergency care you administered unless you did not act reasonably, the victim objected, or you acted in bad faith.
Therefore, while you are under no legal obligation to pull over and stop, you should. While the time may be a minor inconvenience for you, your actions can help save someone’s life and your observations can be essential to holding the parties responsible for the accident accountable.
What Should You Do If You Witness A Car Crash?
At the scene of the accident:
- Call 9-1-1 and report the accident even if you assume someone else must have called already because it is better to have more than one person call to report an accident than no one at all.
- Turn on your hazards before you attempt to pull over and make sure that you slow down to lessen the chances of causing an additional accident.
- Try not to move anyone who is seriously injured as you could inadvertently end up hurting them more.
- Provide your name and contact information to the authorities who arrive on the scene as well as any of the drivers who ask to the extent you feel comfortable.
- Use your smartphone to take pictures and record video of the location of the accident as well as the surrounding area.
After the accident:
- Write down your account of what happened. Make sure that you record your recollection of the accident as soon as you get home. The longer you wait, the better the chances of you forgetting important details that may become critical to an injured victim’s personal injury claim.
- Get needed mental health treatment. Car accidents can be upsetting for both the victim and a bystander who witnesses the accident, especially those that entail serious injuries and fatalities or involve children.
Have You or a Loved One Been Injured as the Result of Another Driver’s Negligence?
We will speak to the bystanders who witnessed in your accident and can utilize their testimony to help you hold the accountable parties responsible. Contact the experienced Miami personal injury attorneys of The Pendas Law Firm today and we will help you recover the compensation you are entitled to.
The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Tampa, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Daytona, Jacksonville, and Bradenton areas.