What to Do if You’re a Witness to a Major Crash

Car accidents happen every day but most of us don’t really think about what to do if we see one happen right in front of us. To minimize the chance of further chaos and to help the people involved in the crash it’s important that witnesses react calmly and methodically.


Ensure Your Own Safety and Pull Over

Gawking at accidents causes more accidents. The best way to ensure that the people in the accident are taken care of is to make sure that you don’t cause another accident, so that emergency services won’t have to divide their attention between even more victims.

Turn on your hazard lights, slow down, and then pull over a reasonable distance away from the crash. This way emergency services will be able to park directly at the scene. If you have any reflective gear, put it on before stepping out into the street.

Call the Authorities

Call 911 as soon as you park your car, and begin making your way to the crash site. Tell the operator where the crash is (tell them the nearest intersection, and which direction you are from it), and how many vehicles are involved. Follow the operator’s instructions, and stay on the line with them until help arrives.

Check the Basic Condition of the Victims

Go to the wreck and check to see if everyone is conscious and breathing. While you’re doing that, find out how many people are involved and relay that information to the emergency operator. Check on everyone before you try to help any individual person.

Don’t Move the Victims

If you’re not a medical professional you shouldn’t try to move the victim of a car crash. You won’t always be able to tell the difference between whiplash symptoms and a spinal injury at a glance. Moving a crash victim unsafely could injure them even more and make you legally liable for injuries or disabilities that they suffer because of your actions. Only consider moving someone if their life is in immediate danger, such as if they’re trapped in a burning car.

Provide Basic Care If Absolutely Necessary

If you’re not a professional you shouldn’t try to treat most injuries. Instead, try to address severe but relatively simple problems like serious lacerations. Apply direct pressure onto the wound to slow blood loss and don’t remove it until help arrives.

DO NOT attempt to improvise a tourniquet or give victims any medications.

Tell Only What You Know

Don’t try to work out precisely what happened. Human memory and eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable, and the more time you spend thinking about it the less reliable it gets. Police officers are trained to elicit relevant information from witnesses, so just answer their questions to the best of your ability, and don’t try to mentally prepare a report for them before they arrive.

Do keep track of what you did after the accident and what the basic condition of each victim is so that the paramedic will be able to take control of the situation as quickly as possible when they arrive.

Don’t Leave Until You Have Permission

As a witness you’re legally required to stay on the scene and provide a report to the police. That report is complete when the police judge that it’s complete, so it’s important not to leave too early. When you’ve told them everything you can remember, just ask if you’re still needed or if you can go home.

Have you witnessed or been involved in a car accident in Miami? Give us a call at 1-800-INJURED and let us help the victims get the care and accident compensation that they deserve.

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