What to Do if You Witness a Car Accident in Portland

Car accidents happen without warning, and there are times when you hear an accident before you see one. However, there is a good chance that you will actually witness a car accident occurring at some point in your driving career. Many people wonder what their obligations are when they witness a Portland car accident. Here, we want to discuss steps you can take that could potentially help those involved in an accident.

Steps to take immediately following the incident

There are several steps you can take after you witness an accident occurs that can be helpful to everybody involved, but you also need to ensure that you are safe.

Pullover and ensure your safety

You will be no good to anybody at an accident scene if you get injured as well. If you witness a car accident, pull your vehicle over to the side of the road at least 100 feet away from the incident and turn on your hazard lights. Make sure you are out of the flow of any traffic and well away from any hazards created by the accident (broken glass, fuel leaks, fires, etc.).

Some of the most common injuries that occur at a car accident scene happen when bystanders are struck by vehicles driving around the accident before first responders have a chance to secure the scene.

Call the police

You should call 911 report the incident to the police as soon as you are safely pulled over. Be prepared to tell the dispatcher that you witnessed an accident, where you are located, how many vehicles are involved, and whether or not you suspect anybody is injured.

Helping those involved

Oregon law does not require that you involve yourself in caring for anybody at an accident scene. You may have heard of Good Samaritan laws. These laws are designed to protect those who render aid to those injured in an emergency, so long as they are acting within the parameters of their training. For example, if a person is trained to administer CPR, they can do so in an emergency situation without fear are facing a lawsuit for any injuries they cause due to their actions (so long as they are not grossly negligent).

If you have no medical training and are not sure you can safely help, you should not do so. Wait until first responders arrive. These individuals have the training necessary to properly secure a car accident scene and help any injured victims. You have already done your part by calling 911.

Stay and make a statement

If you witness a car accident, the responding police officer will want to speak to you to get a statement about what you saw. Police officers want to gather as much information as possible so they can determine fault for the incident, particularly if somebody is injured or killed. When you speak to the police, tell them only what you have seen. Do not make up any details about the accident or make any assumptions about how the incident occurred.

Be ready to talk to insurance adjusters

When you stop at the scene of an accident that you have witnessed, you can be certain that you will get a call from any insurance carriers of the parties involved. Insurance adjusters will be looking for information to help their respective policyholders. All you have to do is relate the same information he told police at the scene. Do not change your story. Stick with the facts. In rare cases, you may be called on to testify in a personal injury lawsuit. If you have any concerns about making a statement, you can speak to a qualified Portland car accident attorney about the incident for advice.