If I Witnessed a Car Accident, Do I Have to Stay at the Scene?

May 8, 2024 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
If I Witnessed a Car Accident, Do I Have to Stay at the Scene?

Consider these common scenarios. You're driving to work, and you see someone who is clearly in a bigger rush than you. They speed past you, leaving you in the dust, and you shake your head at their aggressive driving. Moments later, that same driver causes an auto accident just a short distance down the road. You're shocked as you recall what the driver just did to you 30 seconds ago.

Or maybe you are driving to the store. As you approach a red light, you see two vehicles entering the intersection at the same time and colliding. You've witnessed a car accident, but do you have to stay at the scene?

As Florida car accident lawyers, we often get questions about what to do after witnessing a car accident. For more information about what to do in the aftermath of a car accident and how to protect yourself from a civil liability claim, continue reading below. If you have additional questions concerning Florida car accidents, our auto accident attorneys are available for free consultations.

What to Do If You Witness a Car Accident

Your first thought may be, "Can I get in trouble if I leave the accident scene?"

Don't panic. You are not legally obligated to stay at the scene of a car accident if you simply witnessed it. However, it's the right thing to do. The people involved may need someone to call for medical care, and eventually, the information you provide may help resolve legal issues in the future. If there aren't many other people around, we would suggest you consider staying at the scene.

What if the accident victims cannot dial 911 due to their injuries? If you are the only witness and you leave, the victims may not receive necessary medical care. Or what if the people involved in the crash are taken to the hospital and can't explain what happened to the police? You can help the officers by sharing what you saw.

If You Are the First One to Witness a Collision, You Should Not Create a Worse Situation

If you stay at the scene after a car crash, you are not expected to spend your entire day there, especially when it's an accident you only witnessed. However, if you have a little time, provide your name and contact information so the authorities or parties can contact you later. Overall, your support could be beneficial in many ways so it's usually worth the time inconvenience to help innocent crash victims.

When you do continue on your way, you should avoid worsening the situation. For example, don't become an obstacle to any approaching emergency vehicles or create a rubberneck traffic jam. While it's often tempting to watch first responders' activity at the scene, this can lead to risky distracted driving behavior. Instead, you should focus on the road in front of you to avoid causing a second car accident yourself.

5 Steps to Take at the Scene After Witnessing a Florida Car Crash

So, you made a generous decision and remained at the car accident scene. Now, you need to decide what to do next. If you have decided to stay at the scene of the auto accident, follow the five suggestions below to avoid getting injured while you help.

  • Continue driving safely until you can find an area to park and exit your vehicle. Don't cause another auto accident trying to help the victims of the first one.
  • As soon as you're in a safe area, call 9-1-1 and report the accident. Provide as much detail as you can to the 911 operator.
  • While emergency services are on their way, you can choose to approach the car accident scene. Approach with caution—keeping an eye out for distracted drivers—and keep to the sidewalk if available. The car accident may have produced dangerous road debris like broken glass, so you should be careful where you step.
  • At the scene, try to find out if everyone's okay. Don't be a hero, though. Unless you're an experienced medical physician, it's risky to attempt to give medical attention to victims. If it's something you know you can handle, there's no problem offering a helping hand, but be careful. You don't want to end up in a civil liability case if you injure someone while trying to help.
  • If the victims are in shock, attempt to calm them down with words. You can try to help figure out what happened since you are now the primary witness. You may ask questions to give the authorities a summary of the situation.

Witness Statements Can Provide Important Support For Victims of Vehicle Crashes

Witness statements can be a critical source of evidence in a personal injury claim. Statements from unbiased third parties can provide important context and help determine who was responsible for the collision. If you are involved in a crash, you will certainly appreciate any witnesses coming forward to explain what happened. Similarly, after witnessing a car accident, you may be called upon to provide testimony and help resolve the related legal issues.

An experienced car accident lawyer can assist you with drafting statements and communicating with all parties involved. In some cases, a driver may try to shift blame to you, even if you were just a witness. Having a skilled car accident injury attorney looking out for your interests can be beneficial.

Dolman Law Group offers the resources of a large personal injury firm, but the personal attention of a smaller operation. We have a long track record of obtaining results for our clients supported by an impressive history of client satisfaction. For more information about the type of service you can expect, we encourage you to read our client testimonials.

Contact Dolman Law Group for Help After a Car Accident

Automobile accidents can be just as scary to witness as they are to those involved. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car crash due to someone else's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation in a personal injury lawsuit.

As car accident attorneys, we've handled a variety of auto accident claims. Some claims require our team to dedicate considerable time and effort to negotiations or bring a case to trial in the courtroom. If you don't hire a car accident law firm with our level of trial experience, you are risking your financial future. The car accident attorneys of Dolman Law Group have more than 120 years of combined experience pursuing maximum compensation for injured clients.

At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we strive to ease the pressure placed on victims. That's why we offer free consultations and case evaluations. Don't hesitate to contact us today to discuss your rights and options. You can reach us at (727) 451-6900 or through our online contact form.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756

*The above information was written and reviewed by either Attorney Matthew Dolman or another injury lawyer at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA., which has a combined 120-plus years of experience practicing Florida personal injury law. Matthew Dolman opened his personal injury law firm in Clearwater and St. Petersburg in 2004. The information provided comes from extensive research and years of experience trying legal cases in courtrooms throughout Florida.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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