Witnessing a car accident can be terrifying and upsetting. Do your best to stay calm. Pull off the road in a safe place away from the accident and call 911. Then do what you can to help the victims. When the police arrive, give them a statement before you leave the scene.
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, focus on keeping yourself safe and avoiding hazards created by the accident. By summoning emergency help, you may save lives. And by talking to police, you may help them understand how the accident happened, making it easier to hold the responsible driver accountable and get compensation for the people who were injured.
What are the most important steps to take after an accident?
If you witness a serious car accident, you may be almost as shaken up as the people who were directly involved. But you can help them by staying calm and getting help.
- Pull over safely.Aim to be at least 100 feet from the scene of the accident. That way, you avoid hazards like broken glass or fire and leave plenty of room for emergency crews. Put on your emergency flashers.
- Call 911.Don’t assume that someone else will do it. Tell the operator there has been an accident and tell them where you are. Even if you are not sure whether anyone has been injured, it is important to get the police to the scene to make a report.
- Check on the people involved. If you can do it safely, find out if the victims are ok and whether there is anything you can do to help. However, DO NOT move an accident victim unless you need to save them from a fire or explosion. Moving an accident victim can make their injuries far worse and may even lead to paralysis. Leave this to medical professionals.
- Get vehicles stabilized and/or out of the way.After a minor accident, the driver should put the car in park and turn off the engine. This prevents a fire if flammable substances have leaked. Drive vehicles safely to the shoulder, or if they’re not driveable, set up emergency flares.
- Stay at the scene. Wait until police have arrived and you have given them a statement. Tell thetruth, and stick to the facts of what you saw. It’s not your job to figure out why the accident happened or who is at fault.
- Share your information if asked, and help out if police, insurance companies or attorneys follow up with you. Tell them what you told the police at the scene, and try to keep your story consistent.
Can I be sued for helping someone at the scene of an accident?
No. You may have heard stories of innocent people being sued simply because they tried to help someone else after an accident. Georgia has a “good Samaritan law” that says that if you stop to help, you cannot be held legally liable as a result of any actions you take. This rule applies as long as you don’t ask to be paid for your services.
Do I have to stop and help?
No, Georgia’s good Samaritan law also says that you can’t be held liable for NOT helping. However, you could save lives if you do stop—or simply make someone’s day much better.
I have nightmares after the accident I saw. Can I make an injury claim for emotional trauma?
Witnessing a horrific accident can unquestionably cause emotional trauma, but you can’t recover insurance money for emotional or mental injuries unless you were also physically hurt in the crash. If, however, you were injured in the accident AND you have emotional trauma because of it, car accident lawyers around Atlanta can help you get money for your physical treatment and the emotional fallout of your accident.
Talk to an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer for Free
Our lawyers have decades of experience helping people get money for the injuries they suffer in car accidents. We never charge anything unless we win money for you. We’ll give you a FREE consultation to talk about your case and help you decide on your next steps. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.