I’ve Just Witnessed a Car Accident. What Should I Do?

Witnessing a car accident is something most of us will experience at least once in our lives. Most of us instinctively want to help however we can. It’s important to know how to do so safely, without putting our own lives, or the lives of others, in danger.

Six Tips for Assisting Responsibly

  1. If you’re the nearest person to the crash, or the first person to witness it, pull over if you can do so safely. Stay 100 feet or more away from the scene of the accident. Turn on your four-way lights so other drivers and emergency vehicles can easily spot the accident.
  2. Call 9-1-1. Tell them the nature of the accident and be prepared to give location information. They’ll want to know the nearest cross street, so look around and determine this as soon as you can. If you’re on an interstate or highway, check for the nearest on or off-ramp or the closest milepost. They will also ask how many people need help, and whether you can determine if they are conscious and breathing, bleeding or have a pulse. If the person is conscious and walking around, they may ask if they are coherent.
  3. Do not attempt to move an injured person unless they are in imminent danger. This can include from fire or if they are lying in the path of oncoming traffic. Attempting to move an accident victim can cause further injury, so only do this if you have no other choice.
  4. You may be able to help move disabled vehicles out of traffic lanes if you are able to do so. Do not attempt to drive the vehicle yourself.
  5. You may be of service to emergency personnel and to the victims if you are able to safely take a few photos of the accident scene. Get contact information so you can get these to the people who will need them later.
  6. As always, take care not to become a victim yourself. Curious onlookers sometimes get too close to accident scenes and others may come upon them too quickly to stop in time, or to notice you.

Idaho’s Good Samaritan Law offers immunity for persons offering first aid for victims. Oregon’s Good Samaritan law is slightly different, and can be viewed here.

For more information on this subject, you can contact the attorneys at Skaug Law.