If you witness a car crash, your actions as a Good Samaritan can help the well-being of those involved and facilitate their ability to receive compensation after a collision. However, it’s essential to understand your rights as a Good Samaritan before jumping in to assist accident victims. Knowing the steps most helpful for the victims and first responders is also crucial.
Can I Incur Civil Liability If I Stop to Help?
In most cases, someone who steps up to help in a car accident doesn’t have to worry about being sued. Good Samaritan laws provide legal protection to individuals who provide emergency assistance in good faith in New York.
This means you can’t be sued for damages as a result of the emergency care you administered. This is a good thing, as your actions may save someone’s life, and your observations can help a victim of someone else’s negligence hold the responsible party accountable.
However, you may incur civil liability if you act with gross negligence. This includes reckless or careless actions that harm the injured person, such as attempting a medical procedure for which you don’t have training.
Assess Your Surroundings
Assessing an accident scene after a car crash is essential to determining the extent of the damage and the needs of those involved. Approach the scene cautiously and look for potential hazards, such as spilled fuel or broken glass.
If vehicles are blocking traffic, try to control the scene by setting up warning signs or cones. Avoid moving the vehicles since this alters evidence, such as the vehicles’ positions and damage, and interferes with the accident investigation.
Look for evidence of the accident, such as skid marks or vehicle damage. Take note of the weather and road conditions, the position of the vehicles, and any other relevant details.
By carefully assessing the scene, you can help provide information to the authorities and assist those who are hurt.
Check for Injuries
As you approach the vehicles after a crash, look for any signs of injury, such as blood or obvious fractures. If someone is unconscious, check their pulse and breathing. If they are not breathing, perform CPR to try and resuscitate them if you have training in the procedure.
If someone is conscious, ask them if they are in pain and where they feel discomfort. Never move an injured person if you suspect they have a neck or spinal cord injury, as this could worsen their condition. Keep them as still as possible until emergency services arrive and provide first aid if you are comfortable doing so.
If there are multiple occupants in the vehicle, prioritize assessing those in the most critical condition. If someone is hurt, don’t move them unless it’s necessary to prevent further harm. Instead, stay calm and offer them comfort while waiting for emergency services to arrive.
As soon as you witness an accident, call 911 and provide the operator with the location, the number of vehicles involved, and information about any visible injuries. Let the operator know if the accident is blocking traffic or presenting a danger to other drivers.
Provide your name and phone number in case they need to reach you for additional information.
You can help after an accident by gathering information for the police report and insurance companies. If you witness an accident, write down the following information to give to the authorities:
- License plate numbers and insurance information of all the vehicles involved
- Names, phone numbers, and addresses of victims and witnesses
- Weather and road conditions
- Position of the vehicles and other relevant details, such as damage to surrounding property
It’s also helpful to take photos or video footage of the scene to provide a visual record of the accident.
Cooperate with Police
When first responders and police arrive on the scene, step back and allow them to take over. Communicate what you witnessed, turn over any relevant information you’ve collected, and let them know if you provided first aid to any crash victims.
Answer all questions the police ask and give them your contact information so the insurance company or attorneys can contact you in the future.
Contact Catalano Law After a Car Accident in New York
Whether you were offering assistance as a Good Samaritan or were the victim of someone else’s negligence, contact an auto accident attorney at Catalano Law for a free consultation if you need legal representation.
We have helped many people in similar situations, so you can depend on us to protect your rights and recover the financial compensation you deserve for your injuries.