Vehicle accidents occur all the time in Phoenix and throughout Arizona. All of us hope that we will not be involved in a crash when we get behind the wheel of a vehicle. However, even if you are not directly involved in a vehicle accident, there may come a time when you witness a vehicle accident.
Here, we want to discuss what you should do if you witness a car accident in Arizona. Our car accident lawyers will discuss if you are required by law to stop and offer assistance and whether or not you should leave your contact information with those involved.
Do You Have to Stop?
If you are involved in a vehicle accident in Arizona, the law requires that you stop, remain at the scene, and render aid as appropriate to others involved. However, as a bystander witness to an accident, you do not have these same obligations. You do not have to stop at the scene of a car accident you witness, and you can continue on your way.
However, what you can do and what you should do are two separate things.
Steps You Can Take After Witnessing an Accident
If you witness a vehicle accident in Arizona, there are various steps that you can take to help those involved. Stopping at the scene of a vehicle accident to render aid could help save someone’s life. Some of the steps that you can take after witnessing a crash include:
- Being aware of your own safety. If you stop near the scene of a vehicle accident that you just witnessed, your number one priority needs to be remaining safe. You need to park far enough away from the accident to avoid causing any additional hazards. Put your hazard lights on to warn other drivers. Do not approach any vehicle if there is gasoline leaking or if a fire has started. If the vehicles appear to be unstable or imbalanced, keep your distance.
- Checking for any injuries. Ask those involved if they have sustained any injuries. However, if any person at the scene appears to be combative, keep your distance. Only speak to those who are not a threat. You need to let any person who sustained an injury know they should lie still and wait for emergency personnel to arrive. Moving a person who has sustained a possible spinal cord injury could make the injury worse.
- Calling 911. You need to call 911 and report the crash. Never assume that somebody else has called 911. When you call, let the dispatcher know where the crash occurred and whether or not there are any injuries. The dispatcher will send out law enforcement, fire, and EMS officials to the scene.
- Offering your contact information. If you remain at the scene of the crash, you can offer your full name and contact information both to the law enforcement officials investigating the incident and to those involved. If you were a witness, you might be contacted by insurance carriers or lawyers involved in the case. Your testimony could be crucial in making sure that injury victims recover compensation for an accident caused by the careless or negligent actions of another driver.