If I Witness a Car Accident, What Should I Do?
In the past couple of weeks, Memphis experienced a number of devastating car accidents, including multiple pedestrian accidents that involved children. We have so many accidents, in fact, that a lot of us will likely witness a car accident at some point on our streets. What should you do if you witness a car accident in Memphis?
Your Decision to Stop
First of all, you aren’t required to stop in the case of an accident. A lot of people choose to do so because they feel it’s the right thing to do. Most of us would be grateful for witnesses if we ever experience an accident, and it’s a kind and generous thing to offer that support to others.
In Tennessee, our Good Samaritan law protects you from liability if you stop and help. This means you don’t have to worry about a lawsuit if you try in good faith to assist at an accident.
That said, in most situations, you won’t need to render first aid or immediate physical assistance. Instead, you can help in a variety of other ways.
Your First Steps After Witnessing a Car Accident in Memphis
After seeing the accident, you’ll want to pull over into a safe place away from the immediate scene if possible. This keeps you safe from fallout at the accident (for example, fire) and leaves room for law enforcement.
If it’s a serious accident (not just a fender bender), call 911. Sometimes, drivers don’t want to be a burden or don’t realize how important a police report will be to their insurance claim.
Don’t insert yourself into the scene immediately. Make it your first priority to write down the license plates and a description of each person. This can be a huge help if by some chance a driver leaves the scene without giving their information.
After that, take care to avoid glass or any other dangers, and introduce yourself as a witness if the situation allows.
Your role is to support the drivers, but that doesn’t usually mean medical care. If you can wait for medical professionals to arrive, you should. Instead, focus on their other needs—lend your cell phone, water, a blanket, a kind word, or anything else that might comfort them.
Our firm offers a free car accident checklist to keep in your glove compartment. This would be a great thing to offer them or help them fill out. It includes all the information insurance companies request when you report an accident, so all the drivers involved can get the benefits they need to cover their auto and medical bills afterwards.
Your Next Steps (Once Police Arrive and After)
Often, witnesses can show the most support through their testimony. You saw what happened, and your statement could help everyone involved—including the drivers, police, medical teams, and insurance companies.
With that in mind, cooperate with the police and provide a detailed statement. If you’re comfortable, give them and the drivers your contact information. This could prove essential if one of the drivers has to file a personal injury claim.
As a car accident lawyer in Memphis, I can’t overstate how much witnesses help a case. So many drivers pass an accident and assume “it’ll work itself out.” But even when both drivers mean well, they can have two different memories of what happened. Objective witnesses can make or break a case—which means you can help someone pay for their medical needs after the accident when the insurance company refuses to believe them.
Being a witness in a car accident is an important, often heroic, thing to do. I hope more people will choose to stop and help make a difference for folks in a stressful situation.
Legal Help After a Memphis Car Accident
If you’ve been in a car accident in the Memphis area, you need an attorney who will take your case seriously and fight to get you the compensation you need and deserve.
Our Memphis personal injury lawyers have helped hundreds of people just like you, and our hard work and compassionate team members have earned us multiple awards for client satisfaction. We take on the insurance companies and win, all while showing you the care and attention you should expect from your attorney.
To discuss your case for free, no strings attached, contact us today at 901-327-1212 or fill out the form below.