What to Do if You Witness a Car Accident?

If you witness a car accident, stay calm and prioritize the safety of everyone involved. Dial 911 to alert authorities and emergency services. Also, assess the accident scene, take photographs, and exchange information with all the parties involved, including license plate numbers, contact details, and insurance information. 

Also, if you’ve witnessed a car accident or suffered any damages and need legal assistance, get in touch with our skilled New York car crash lawyers at Uptown Injury Law, PLLC, to schedule a consultation at 917-540-8728 and get a free case review.

Step-by-Step Guide for Car Accident Witnesses

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When you witness a car accident, knowing what to do is important. In this step-by-step guide, let us help you understand your role as a car accident witness and how to handle the situation effectively.

Step 1: Stay Calm

Witnessing a car accident can be stressful, but it’s essential to stay calm to ensure that you can provide accurate information and assistance to the injured party when needed. However, make sure you are at a safe distance of at least 100 feet away from the accident scene to avoid any potential hazards. Furthermore, before taking any action, take a deep breath to help maintain your composure.

Step 2: Be Careful of the Accident Scene

Approach the accident scene with caution and prioritize safety. For this, do the following:

  • If you are driving, turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers and ensure your safety.
  • Check if anyone is injured.
  • Do not leave your vehicle until it is safe to do so.
  • Check if there are any leaks in the car fluids.
  • Move to a safe location away from traffic and leave space for paramedic vehicles to arrive.
  • Look around the area to check for any broken metal or glass pieces and harmful flames to protect yourself from any injuries.

Step 3: Check for Injuries

Once you’re in a safe position, assess the involved parties for injuries. If you see anyone who appears to be injured, call for immediate medical attention. Generally, in New York State, the Good Samaritan Laws permit you to call for emergency assistance if you come across a car crash or encounter someone who has overdosage of drugs or alcohol and needs medical help.

Similarly, if you have basic first-aid knowledge and can help safely, do so while waiting for medical professionals to arrive. Remember, your right actions can make a difference in someone’s well-being.

Step 4: Call 911

Call 911 immediately and report the accident to the local police in your area. Describe the accident’s location, nature, and situation to the police officer. Additionally, provide them with as much detail as you can and ask to get the official police report.

Information You Need to Give the Authorities About Crash

You can share the following details with law enforcement:

  • That you’re a witness of the car crash
  • You and your vehicle are safe
  • The site/location of the crash
  • Total number of vehicles involved
  • If someone has suffered any injuries

Step 5: Gather Information

Gathering essential information from all parties involved in the accident is vital. Be sure to document license plate numbers, obtain contact details, and gather insurance information. Moreover, if conditions permit, take photographs of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and any apparent injuries to the involved parties. Make sure to collect as many details as possible because they can prove invaluable for insurance claims to help the victim seek the justice they deserve. 

Step 6: Give a Witness Statement

Providing a witness statement after an accident is crucial for several reasons. It plays a pivotal role in establishing fault for the accident. By recounting the facts accurately, without speculating, you help authorities assess liability accurately.

To submit a witness statement, cooperate fully with the police and emergency personnel on the scene. Also, make sure to include your contact information when providing the statement, as insurance adjusters may need to reach out for any follow-up inquiries about the accident.

Your Role As a Witness in a Car Accident

Avoid taking sides or getting into arguments between the drivers involved in the accident. Your job as a witness is to simply tell the truth about what you saw. 

Moreover, sometimes, talking to the intoxicated driver at the accident scene can also put you in danger. So make sure to keep a safe distance from those involved.

Although car accident injury claims rarely go to trial, a lawyer might request you to be a witness in court. Though this can be stressful, your primary responsibility is to answer questions truthfully. Your testimony can play a crucial role in securing financial support for injured victims and help make a significant difference in their recovery.

Don’ts of Witness At the Accident Scene

At an accident scene, it’s essential to avoid certain actions. Also, while you may not always be legally obligated to stop, many witnesses choose to do so out of moral responsibility. This is because your presence and assistance could be vital for the individuals involved.

Don’t Rush In: While it is essential to provide assistance to the parties involved in the accident, avoid rushing into the scene without first evaluating potential risks and maintaining a safe distance. Pay attention to hazards like broken glass that could pose harm to you.

Avoid Offering Medical Assistance Unless Urgent: It’s generally best to refrain from providing medical assistance to the injured party unless it’s a life-threatening emergency. This is because moving an injured person incorrectly can potentially cause further harm. Therefore, in non-life-threatening situations, it is recommended to wait for trained medical professionals to provide first aid.

Don’t Leave Without Contact Information: Make sure to exchange contact information with the drivers involved before leaving the accident scene. In addition, remember to identify the vehicles involved in the accident and record their license plate numbers.

Avoid Speculating About Fault: If you’re unsure who caused the accident, stick to the facts you know. When giving a statement, answer questions honestly and completely. However, you don’t have to feel pressured to answer every question or make guesses about what happened or who’s at fault.

Don’t Ignore a Subpoena: If a car accident lawyer needs you to testify as a witness, they may issue a subpoena. Ignoring a court subpoena is against the law and can result in penalties such as fines or even jail for contempt of court. Therefore, always respond to a court’s request to testify.

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Get in Touch With Uptown Injury Car Crash Lawyers

At Uptown Injury Law Firm, PLLC, we understand that car accidents can be traumatic and may leave you with not only physical injuries but also emotional and financial burdens. We want you to know that you’re not alone.

With over 15 years of experience, our team of experienced New York car accident attorneys is here to help you navigate through this difficult time and ensure you get justice. We are dedicated to making your road to recovery as smooth as possible, physically, legally, and emotionally.

How Can We Help You?

  • Personalized Legal Support: Our car accident attorneys adopt a customized approach for every case. We understand that each accident is unique, and we will collaborate closely with you to develop a robust legal strategy tailored to your specific circumstances.
  • Medical Care Assistance: Your health is our utmost concern. We can help you access the best medical care and will ensure you receive the proper treatment to recover fully. Our goal is to relieve you of the stress associated with the medical bills and lost wages.
  • Financial Relief: Car accidents often result in financial strain, with mounting medical bills and lost income. Our team of car accident lawyers will work tirelessly to secure compensation for you and allow you to focus on healing without any financial worries.
  • Emotional Support: Dealing with a car crash can be emotionally challenging. Our team is here to listen, support, and guide you through the legal process. We are your partners in every step of the way.
  • No Win No Fee: We understand that you may worry about legal costs. But, rest assured, our car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. We get paid a percentage of your settlement award. If your car accident claim does not get resolved, you pay us nothing.

Reach out to our New York car accident attorneys today at 917-540-8728 to schedule a no-obligation, risk-free consultation.


What Should I Do Immediately After Witnessing a Car Accident?

If you witness a car crash, ensure your own safety and call 911 to report the accident. Moreover, check for injuries and assist car accident victims if you can do it safely. Also, you can reach out to a car accident lawyer if you think you need expert help. 

Do I Have a Legal Obligation to Stop if I Witness a Car Accident?

Yes, in many jurisdictions, you are legally obligated to stop if you witness an auto accident, especially when serious injuries or property damage occurs. However, failing to do so may result in legal consequences against you.

Should I Move the Vehicles Involved in the Accident?

Yes, you should move vehicles if there is immediate danger and harm to other traffic, such as blocking a roadway. Otherwise, it’s generally best to leave them in place until police officers arrive.

However, be aware of local laws and regulations regarding moving vehicles after a car crash. Some jurisdictions may have specific rules, and failure to follow them could lead to legal complications.

Can I Provide a Statement to the Police if I Witness an Accident?

Yes, you must provide a statement to the police if you witness a car accident. Your testimony can be crucial in determining fault and ensuring a fair investigation. Make sure to state details such as the date, time, location, vehicle descriptions, and any actions or behaviors you observed.

Can My Witness Account Be Used in a Car Accident Lawsuit?

Yes, your witness testimony can play a significant role in a car accident lawsuit, but several factors come into play, including its relevance, credibility, and admissibility. For your testimony to be valuable, it must be honest, based on your firsthand experience, and directly related to the case. Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the judge or jury to assess the importance and reliability of your testimony within the legal proceedings.

Do I Have Any Legal Obligations Towards Those Involved in the Accident?

Yes, you have a legal obligation to stop at the accident scene, provide necessary information (such as your name, contact details, and insurance information) to the other parties involved, and cooperate with law enforcement. It’s essential to fulfill these responsibilities to comply with the law and ensure a fair accident resolution.

Can I Leave the Accident Scene Once Authorities Arrive?

No, you should not leave the accident scene until authorities permit you. It’s essential to stay and cooperate with law enforcement to provide any necessary information.


Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers
Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers

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