You are driving down the highway or standing on the side of the road waiting for the “walk” signal, and suddenly you see two cars collide. It looks like the drivers or passengers may have been hurt. What are your obligations? Read on for a discussion of the responsibilities of a witness to a car crash. Call a dedicated and effective Glendale car accident lawyer if you or a loved one has been injured in a California traffic accident.
What You Can Do vs. What You Should Do
At the outset, we will note that California does not impose a “good Samaritan” obligation on witnesses to a car accident. If you are driving down the street and you see a car crash, you are not legally required to stop, call 911, render aid, or take any steps to help. Whether you choose to help out is up to you, and many witnesses to accidents do stop to help. The tips we offer are for those people who choose to offer aid.
Get Yourself Safe
If you do choose to help, make sure you take care of yourself first. If you are on the road, pull over to a safe space and put your hazard lights on. If you are a pedestrian, make sure you are not in danger from other vehicles, fires, or other hazards. Keep a safe distance from the accident and ensure that your car (or person) is visible to other drivers who approach.
If it looks like anyone might have been injured, if there was serious property damage, or if there seems to be even a risk of injury, call 911. You may not be the only person to do so at that moment, but then again, you might be.
Decide Whether to Check on Victims
It may or may not be wise to approach the accident to check on the victims. Use your judgment. If you can safely approach the scene to see how the victims are doing, then you can do so. Do not move the victims, as they may have hidden injuries that will be made worse if you move them. Let the emergency responders move the victims. If there is an immediate danger to the lives of the victims, such as a fire about to cause an explosion or a car submerged in water, you could move the victim to save their life.
Talk to the Authorities
If you choose to stick around, you can talk to the authorities to give your account of the accident. Your statement might be important in establishing who was at fault for the accident, allowing accident victims to recover compensation for their injuries.
Depositions and Testimony
If you were a witness to an accident, you might be “deposed” by either party. That means that they will interview you as a witness. Depositions take place in a conference room or other location, rather than a courthouse. It is an opportunity for the attorney to question you about what you observed. You will be under oath and must answer truthfully. If you are deposed and the case goes to trial, you could ultimately be called as a trial witness.
You can refuse an informal request for a deposition or testimony, but if you are considered an important witness, the attorney may seek a subpoena. A subpoena would legally force you to appear at a deposition or testify in court.
Get Trusted Advice and Representation After a California Car Crash
If you were hurt by a negligent driver in California, get help seeking damages from a dedicated professional by contacting the passionate and trial-ready Glendale personal injury attorneys at McReynolds Vardanyan LLP for a free consultation at 818-855-2115.