Security and Safety

Witness Response Guide for Car Accidents

By Kristy Alpert 8.29.16

Skidding. Swerving. Crashing. It happens all the time when driving on Texas roads: a collision right in front of you. Thoughts race through your mind. Is anyone hurt? Is it safe to continue? Suddenly you’re faced with a decision — continue driving or stop and render help.

Auto accident witnesses can play an important role in the outcome, from providing emergency personnel and insurance companies with vital third-party information to helping victims remain calm until help is on the way. If you witness a wreck, play it smart with these helpful tips for lending a hand.

  1. Approach cautiously. If you’re the first person at the scene of the crash, put your hazards on, slow down, and pull completely off the road. You’ll want to make sure you park at least 100 feet away from the accident to allow emergency personnel room to see and access the collision zone.
  2. Assess the situation. Never exit your vehicle until you are sure the scene is safe (i.e., free of oncoming traffic, flames, and combustibles). Scan the area to see if anyone is injured, and announce your presence to avoid sneaking up on anyone with already jittery nerves.
  3. Call 911. Whether or not you think someone else has already called 911, make the call yourself to be safe and to ensure a medical team is on the way to assist any injured victims. Remain calm and be prepared to answer questions like your location, the number of injured people, and their conditions (bleeding, unconscious, etc.).
  4. Help the victims. Offer assistance to anyone at the scene, being careful not to move anyone who is injured, which could worsen the trauma. Regardless of your medical background (or lack thereof), you are legally allowed to offer assistance thanks to the Texas Good Samaritan Act, which states that “a person who in good faith administers emergency care at the scene of an emergency or in a hospital is not liable in civil damages for an act performed during the emergency unless the act is willfully or wantonly negligent.”
  5. Keep traffic moving. If the wrecked vehicle is in a traffic lane, assist the driver in moving it out of the way or set up flares/cones to warn other drivers. Never drive the vehicle yourself unless instructed to do so by a police officer, and make sure to take pictures before moving any aspect of the accident scene.
  6. Give a statement. When the police arrive on the scene, introduce yourself and give your name, contact information, and a detailed description about what you witnessed. It’s best to only discuss matters of fault with police officers and avoid mentioning your views to the parties involved in the accident.
  7. Be available. Once you leave the area, prepare to be contacted by insurance adjusters, police investigators, or other authorities. Your report could be a factor in getting victims the payment or medical help they deserve.
  8. Protect yourself. Witnessing an accident is never easy, but it can be a good wake-up call for making sure your auto insurance policy is up-to-date. Call your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent to ensure your policy is ready to cover you and your loved ones in the event of an accident.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2016 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance