What to Do After Witnessing a Car Accident in West Palm Beach

Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley
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Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley

In Florida, the temperate climate, numerous tourist attractions, and size of the state all lead to more drivers than usual being out on the roads. One of the premier research agencies for the automotive aftermarket industry, ranks Florida third in the country with over 14.6 million licensed drivers.

When living in Florida, there is a good chance you will witness a car accident at some point in your driving career.

What NOT to Do

There are a few things that are not advisable after witnessing an accident, including:

  • Don’t Feel Like You Have to Stop. There is no law requiring you to stop and render assistance to car accident victims. Nonetheless, if you are the first to arrive, your assistance may help save lives. Many consider it to be the right thing to do.
  • Don’t Place Yourself in Danger. By rushing in before assessing the damage, you may expose yourself to broken glass or sharp metal.
  • Don’t Offer Medical Assistance Unless Necessary. Unless, for example, a victim is bleeding out and needs pressure applied to a wound, it’s best to wait for professional medical personnel to render medical assistance.
  • Don’t Fear Liability. Florida, like most states, has a Good Samaritan Law that protects you from liability when you’re trying to help a victim.
  • Don’t Allow a Driver to Leave the Scene Without Exchanging Information. Do not attempt to physically restrain anybody, but try to jot down whatever information is available, such as a license plate number.
  • Don’t Speculate as to Fault. Simply supply objective information to medical and law enforcement personnel and let them do their jobs.
  • Don’t Ignore a Subpoena. A subpoena is a judge-issued order for you to appear in court and testify.

What to Do

    • Do Make Sure You Are in a Safe Place. Watch for oncoming traffic, pull over to a safe place along the shoulder in front of the accident scene, and turn on your emergency lights.
    • Do Dial 911. If you are the first to the scene and are not sure if someone else has already called the police, dial 911 and report the accident.
    • Do Offer Any Type of Safe Assistance. Offer a kind word, loan a cell phone, offer to write down/record information for the victims.
    • Do Cooperate With the Police. If you have stopped at the accident scene, provide every detail you can to the police and stay on the scene until the police have released you.
    • Do Give a Statement and Provide Your Contact Information. As a witness, your statements will critically aid whoever was not at fault.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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