While most drivers have some idea of what to do after an accident, what to do if you witness an accident is a different matter altogether.
Many people have no idea what to do when they witness a traffic accident. They can see the accident, drive on, and hope someone else calls the police. If you witness a car accident in California, then there are a few steps you can take to ensure that you are acting correctly.
In California, there is no legal obligation to stop and help after witnessing a car accident. However, if you decide to stop and be a witness, you can be very helpful to the victim. For example, if one party was driving recklessly and the other party was injured as a result, your statement and testimony will help hold the person at fault accountable and ensure that the injured party receives compensation for their injuries.
If an accident occurs in front of you, immediately pull off the road, but be sure to keep a safe distance from the accident. Remember that when emergency personnel are called, they must be able to see the accident and stop close to it so that they can quickly attend to the injured. Therefore, we recommend that you stop beyond the accident and not in front of it.
The first and most important thing is to look for any injuries. Of course, check the obvious places, like inside vehicles, but remember that if people weren’t wearing seat belts they may have been thrown from the vehicle. Check the tall grass or bushes around you to see if there are any wounded in them.
It is important that someone calls 9-1-1 as soon as possible. Make sure you are prepared to give the following information: the location of the accident (including the cross street or the on/off ramp if you are on the freeway), how many people need help (if possible, giving information about their condition can also be useful.
It is always your decision whether or not to be involved as a witness to a traffic accident, and understandably, you may want to avoid the commotion altogether. However, testifying can help innocent victims obtain justice for the harm done to their lives.