Car accidents happen all the time in Florida. While many people are not directly involved in accidents, there may come a time when you witness an incident on your commute. Witnessing a car accident can be scary, and you may wonder what you were supposed to do if this happens. There are several steps you can take after witnessing an accident that could be helpful to those involved.
Make Sure You Are Safe
The most important thing for you to do if you have witnessed an accident is to ensure that you are safe. Pull your vehicle over to the side of the road at least 100 feet away from the accident. Turn on your hazard lights. By ensuring that you are a safe distance away from the incident, you will be better able to avoid any accident hazards such as broken glass, fuel leaks, or fires that could arise after the incident.
You also need to be sure that your vehicle is out of the path of oncoming vehicles. Unfortunately, a common cause of injuries in the aftermath of an accident is bystanders struck by continually moving traffic around the accident scene, particularly before fire and police services arrive.
Call the Police
Do not assume that anybody else is called 911. As soon as you were safely pulled over, call emergency authorities, and be prepared to tell the operator:
- that you witnessed an accident
- the location of the accident
- the number of vehicles involved
- whether or not you suspect someone is injured
Should You Help Those Involved?
Florida law does not require you to help those who are involved in car accidents. However, if you do choose to render aid, you will likely be afforded protection under the Good Samaritan laws. These laws state that any person, whether they are a licensed healthcare professional or not, is not liable when responding to emergencies. The intention of these laws is to encourage medical personnel to provide aid and emergency situations without worrying about whether they will be sued. If you are not a medical professional, or if the situation is not safe, you may not want to attempt to help the victims.
Never jeopardize your own safety in these incidents. You could just be creating another patient for first responders to tend to.
Do You Have to Submit a Statement?
If you have stayed on the scene after witnessing an accident, you can expect that the police will want to get your statement. They are going to gather as much information as possible about what happened, and your statement may be vital when determining who was at fault for the incident. It is important that you are completely honest with any statement you give related to the accident. Do not makeup details. You should only relay information about what you directly witnessed.
You May Be Called by an Insurer
You should be prepared to be called by the insurance companies of any party involved in the accident. Insurance claims adjusters will be looking for information to help their respective customers. When you talk to these insurance carriers, your story should not change from the one you gave to the police at the scene of the accident, unless you honestly recalled information that you did not remember at the time. Your initial statement will be compared to what you tell the insurance carrier, and any inconsistencies will be called into question. If a personal injury lawsuit arises as a result of the accident, you may be called to give a deposition or testify about what you saw.
Contact our Miami personal injury attorneys today at (305) 638-4143.