You might know what to do if you get in a car accident – remain at the scene, exchange information, call the police – but what about when you are a witness? If you are one of the first people to the scene of an auto accident, be a Good Samaritan. Render aid to crash victims as much as you safely and reasonably can. As a car accident witness, you might have the opportunity to help a car crash victim. Remain calm and follow basic steps to help others if you see a car accident in Alabama.
What to Do if You See a Car Accident
If you see a car accident in Huntsville, try to respond in a cool and collected manner. Pull over if it is safe to do so to help those in the accident. Put your personal safety first. Only stop and exit your vehicle if it is safe to do so. Keep a safe distance if you see broken glass, fuel leaks or fires. Then, take steps to help those in the crash.
- Call the police. Although the legal duty to call the police after a serious accident technically falls on involved drivers, you may be able to get your phone and call 911 faster. Do not assume someone else has already called. Dial 911 and report the wreck if you see injuries, deaths or property damage.
- Check on victims. Get as close to the crash site as you safely can to check on the victims. Ask if anyone has any injuries or needs paramedics. Do not move any victims unless they are in imminent danger, especially if someone is complaining of back or neck pain. The victim could have a serious spinal cord injury.
- Help clear the road. If you can, help victims stabilize their vehicles and move them out of the road. Turn off the ignition and put the vehicle in neutral. Push it out of the road to leave space for other drivers and first responders.
- Offer your services as a witness. Give involved drivers your full name and contact information in case they need you to testify about what you saw in an insurance claim or lawsuit. Be honest and stick to the facts when giving statements.
Taking the time to carry out these services could greatly help those injured in a car accident. You could be the reason a seriously injured person gets the medical care he or she needs to survive. You could also serve as an important witness during a victim’s case against an at-fault driver.
Do You Have to Go to Court if You Witness a Car Accident?
In most car accident cases, eyewitnesses from the scene will not have to appear in court to testify. Most victims settle crash cases outside of court without the need for a trial. Even if a case does need to go to court, eyewitnesses can typically give recorded statements over the phone or through pretrial meetings with attorneys. If you give a sworn statement during the discovery phase of a lawsuit, a lawyer can generally read the transcript aloud during trial instead of having you come in and testify in person. In particularly complex car accident cases, however, you may receive a subpoena telling you to attend the court date. Unless you receive a subpoena, it will be up to you whether or not to attend a trial as an eyewitness.
Is it Illegal to Leave the Scene of an Accident You Witnessed?
Alabama does have a Good Samaritan Law, but only for owners of automated external defibrillators (AEDs). This law states that AED owners have a legal responsibility to offer emergency care in good faith to people who appear in need. Anyone who renders care to someone suffering cardiac arrest in good faith will be immune from civil liability for injuries.
In most cases, Alabama law does not require you to remain at the scene of a car accident as a witness. Leaving the scene without rendering aid, however, could negatively impact victims. As long as it is safe for you to do so, staying at the scene and offering assistance could save lives.