If you’ve witnessed a car accident, there is a certain protocol you should follow to ensure your own safety and that of people nearby. Your actions could potentially save lives. Witnessing a car accident can be horrific and traumatizing, which is why it’s vital to not panic and maintain your cool. About 80,000 car accidents occur on the streets of Los Angeles every year. That means there are about 220 car crashes in LA every day.
In fact, you’ve probably witnessed a car accident or two, but you chose to drive or walk away, pretending nothing had happened — because you had no time, didn’t want to put your life at risk or simply didn’t know what to do.
Yes, that’s a lot of responsibility to take on, but innocent lives depend on you. Imagine if your relative or friend – or you – were in the victim’s shoes. So what should you do if you witness a car accident in Los Angeles?
Step-by-step guide: What to do if you witness a car accident?
- Don’t put your life in jeopardy. Don’t get too close to the car crash. If you’re driving, pull over to the side at least 90 feet away from the scene.
- Don’t get too close. There can be broken glass, leaked fuel, flames or combustibles, which is why it’s vital to maintain a safe distance from the car crash when approaching the scene.
- Approach the vehicles, but only if you believe it’s safe to get closer.
Call 911. As you approach the vehicles (at a safe distance), dial 911 and let the operator know your location, number of people involved and other details.
- Make sure the parties involved are safe. Approach the parties involved in the car accident and make sure no one is injured. Do NOT move the victims if they’re injured, as it may only aggravate their injuries.
- Offer to make a call. Offer the parties involved in the car accident to call their relatives or friends. Some people feel more comfortable and calm when their relatives or friends are around.
- Offer to call a car accident attorney. Consulting an experienced car accident attorney in Los Angeles can help obtain the maximum compensation. Explain to the victim of the car crash that insurance companies take advantage of their clients hastily agreeing to low-pay settlement offers without establishing the full value of damages.
- Only a well-versed attorney will work in your best interests to do a complete assessment of the damage done.
- Call JML Law at 818-610-8800 to have a free initial consultation. JML Law gets paid only after our clients win a favorable settlement.
- Make sure the drivers have turned off the ignition to eliminate the risk of fire (there may be an oil, fuel or coolant leak).
- When the police arrive, talk to them. Answer all of their questions honestly, as you may end up testifying in court. Report everything you saw.
Listen. If you hear one party lying about what happened during the car accident, tell the police what actually happened and consider giving a recorded statement to an insurance company.
- Make sure the police and all parties involved in the car accident have your phone number.
- If it’s a hit-and-run car accident, don’t confront the driver as he/she may behave violently or recklessly. Write down the license plate number, the car model and its color, and don’t hesitate to call 911.
If you want to consult a Los Angeles car accident attorney to find out more about your responsibilities and legal obligations as a car accident witness, call JML Law at 818-610-8800 or send us an email.