Witnessing a car accident can be nearly as frightening and stressful as being in one yourself. In the aftermath of witnessing a car crash, you may be asking yourself: what are my responsibilities if I see an accident near me? 


First, you’re not legally obligated to stop and provide assistance. However, if you do decide to help, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Keep reading for five guidelines to follow to ensure you’re providing the best aid possible to the parties involved, medical personnel, and law enforcement officers. 

Take These 5 Steps After Witnessing an Accident

  1. Call 911. If you witness a vehicle crash, pull your car over to the side of the road — at a safe distance from the scene — and call 911. Don’t assume that the drivers or passengers in the crash have already called the authorities. The people involved in the accident could be injured, dazed, confused or in shock. Calling the police yourself ensures that a response team will move quickly to reach the scene.  


  1. Approach the scene cautiously. Don’t race immediately into the accident scene. Check your surroundings carefully before approaching: is there broken glass or other dangerous objects in the road? Is there leaking fuel or oil that could start a fire? Are there any exposed electrical wires? Do you see sparks or flames? Will stepping into the road put you in danger from passing cars? Only make your way over to check on the drivers and passengers once you’ve determined the scene is safe. You should never place yourself in harm’s way to assist the persons involved in the car crash. 


  1. Offer assistance to the drivers and passengers involved. After you’ve approached the vehicles, ask if everyone is OK and if anyone needs an ambulance. Unless an immediate fire risk is present, never attempt to move an injured person because doing so could inadvertently worsen an injury. And unless you’re a trained medical professional, don’t perform medical treatment on anybody involved in the accident. You can provide assistance in other ways by helping move the cars to the side of the road, offering your cell phone if someone needs to make a call, and reassuring all parties that help is on the way. 


  1. Don’t discuss the accidents with the parties involved. Emotions and tensions may be running high at the scene of a car wreck. It’s not your place to assign blame to anyone at the scene or try to mediate fault disputes between the two drivers. Limit your conversation to words of comfort, reassurance and assistance. 


  1. Talk to the police and leave your contact information. Give your witness statement to the police when they arrive. Tell the responding officers everything you saw and be truthful — if you don’t know something, it’s OK to say you don’t know. Leave your contact information in case the police have further questions at a later date. You may also be contacted by insurance companies and lawyers involved in the claim at a later date. 

Integrity Spine and Orthopedics Treats Car Accident and Personal Injury Cases

Car accidents are a leading cause of back and neck injuries, whiplash, concussions, and soft tissue sprains and strains. Sometimes car crash injuries don’t present with symptoms until several hours, days, or even weeks after the accident. Back or neck pain, stiffness, headaches, muscle spasms, loss of normal movement, numbness or tingling, weakness, fatigue, and mood or personality changes are warning signs of a serious injury. Anyone who’s been in a car crash should see a doctor for an examination, even if you have no pain or symptoms. Failing to receive timely care and treatment for car accident injuries can lead to long-term pain and complications. 


Integrity Spine and Orthopedics provides care and treatment for car accident injuries, along with medical evaluations and treatment for personal injury cases. Our clinics offer a full range of orthopedic, sports medicine, pain management and minimally invasive surgery services. 


If you or someone you know has been involved in a vehicle crash, contact Integrity Spine and Orthopedics to schedule a medical evaluation. We have a convenient clinic location in Jacksonville, FL. You can reach us by phone or via an online form.  

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