There are plenty of resources available to people directly involved in car crashes, but what happens to those who witness car accidents in Kansas City? If you witness a car crash, you may owe certain duties to the accident victims. Knowing your responsibilities as a car accident witness can help you stay out of legal trouble, and help those who did sustain injuries in the collision. Here are the steps to take after witnessing a motor vehicle crash in Missouri:
Take Care of Yourself
Just as an air flight attendant warns passengers to secure their own oxygen masks before helping others, you must focus on your own safety first as a car accident witness. Otherwise, you could also sustain injuries and won’t be of help to anyone else. If you’re in an area that’s unsafe after the crash, such as near a burning vehicle or a structure that might collapse, get to safety. If you were another driver on the roadway, pull over when it’s safe to do so. Put on your hazard lights and leave enough distance between yourself and the crash to stay out of danger.
Call the Police
Stay calm and call the police. Don’t assume someone else is calling the police from the scene. You might be the first person available or able to make the call. Dial 911 and report the accident to the police. Even if the crash appears minor, make the report. Let the operator know you witnessed the accident and are on the scene. Reporting accidents to police is critical for creating an official record of the crash.
Check for Injuries
Assess the collision for any immediately apparent personal injuries. If you notice any injured parties, give this information to the 911 dispatcher. Missouri’s Good Samaritan Law applies to some witnesses in car accident cases. According to this law, physicians, registered nurses, and other trained emergency technicians can legally render emergency services outside of the healthcare setting without facing liability for their actions (unless the individual willfully or wantonly causes harm).
If you are one of these individuals, feel free to render care to injured individuals until help arrives. The law protects you from any civil damages resulting from emergency care in these situations. The law also applies should you render care to a minor without first getting a parent’s permission. If you are not a trained professional, do not give accident victims medical treatment unless they are in imminent danger. You could unknowingly make injuries worse and face liability. You can, however, try to make them as comfortable and calm as possible during the wait.
Do Not Confront the Driver(s)
Stay out of any confrontations between the drivers or other involved parties. Drivers may be angry or violent after a crash, and you could get hurt or put yourself in danger. Instead, record the license plate number and vehicle information of the driver. This is especially important in a hit and run case, or if the angry driver speeds off before police arrive. Give any information you have about the driver to police.
Give Your Statement to Police
Once police arrive, they will document the accident and begin taking down the names, contact information, and statements of any eyewitnesses. Be honest about your statement and stick to the facts. It’s not your job to place blame with either party – simply state what you saw. Provide important information such as the directions and speeds of both vehicles, and how the collision occurred. You may wind up presenting eyewitness testimony in a deposition or in court, should the accident case go to trial in the future. Always present facts honestly, since you’ll be under oath in these situations.
Your clear-headed actions directly following a car accident can significantly help victims. Follow these steps should you ever find yourself in this position.