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Your Responsibilities When Witnessing a Road Accident

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 11 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Your Responsibilities When Witnessing A Road Accident

If you do see a traffic accident there are several things that a responsible witness should do to try and help those involved.

Don't Smoke

Number one, and most importantly, don't smoke or allow anyone else at the scene to smoke either - the presence of petrol and other highly flammable materials mean it could become it a far worse accident if a spark or discarded cigarette causes a fire.

Round Up The Witnesses

Try to gather together any other witnesses so that you can assign responsibilities to those who can help. This will stop you getting under each other’s feet and will make you more useful to the injured parties and the Emergency Services.

Once you have done this:

  • Establish who is qualified or trained in first aid and will be able to assist the injured until the Emergency services arrive.
  • Ask someone to keep onlookers back from the scene and to make sure that the scene is safe from any further traffic incidents.
  • Make sure that one person speaks to the Emergency services consistently so that they don't get conflicting information. Choose someone who appears calm to do this as they will need to advise the operator on several things such as where the accident is, how it happened, the seriousness of the injuries, how many people are involved, to name but a few.

Assisting The Injured

If there are people who are seriously injured, then you should do what you can to make them comfortable. The first rule is - do not move an injured person wherever possible unless it is dangerous to leave them where they are.

If you are skilled in First Aid, start assisting any injured parties by following the ABC code.

  • Make sure their Airways are clear and they can breathe
  • Reduce Bleeding by putting pressure on any wounds (do not put yourself in danger from infection from open wounds here, either wear gloves if you have them or make sure there is no chance blood contact between yourself and the injured person), and
  • Keep their Circulation going by keeping them warm and elevating any injuries

If you are not comfortable with your first aid skills, the best thing to do is to leave them alone until the Emergency services arrive, just offer comfort and emotional support or else you could cause them more problems than you solve.

After The Accident

If you are approached by someone involved in a road traffic accident, or a police representative, they may ask you for your name and contact details so that you can be contacted later by someone who is investigating the incident - usually the police, insurance company or solicitor.

If you are asked to be a witness to an accident then you should do the following:

  • Make notes

Write down a detailed account of what you saw as soon as you can. Although you may not have been directly involved in the accident you may still be suffering from a type of stress which can affect your memory, and may lead to you having an altered recollection of what happened. This is why it is so important to write down what you saw so that you can refer to it later.

  • Keep your evidence safe

It may also be some time before the case is called to court or settlement hearings take place.

  • Make sure your evidence is yours and don’t be bullied

Regardless of what you tell the people involved in the accident at the time, they should make their own written accounts and take photographs/make sketches so that these can be compared with any witnesses called. Do not be pressured into saying anything that you don’t agree with and don’t be pushed into saying anything regarding who is at fault unless you are comfortable doing so.

In the UK, you are not legally obliged to give your details as a witness to a traffic accident, but if you do so then you may be called to give evidence in person at a court or at an insurance settlement hearing and your account can make all the difference to an innocent driver - especially if compensation or criminal claims are being made.

With this in mind you should make sure that you are 100% sure of the information that you give in your statement and should not be influenced by any external factors..

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