D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook, Catch & Release, won the 2012 Robin Becker Prize from Seve...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has appeared on legaladvice.com, themanifest.com, and vice.com.

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Jan 19, 2021

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If you’re unfortunate enough to witness a bad car wreck, you should stop and identify yourself as a witness. It may be inconvenient, but it’s a must-do. You’ll need to give your information and a statement, but there’s a little more to it than that. Follow these seven steps if you witness a car wreck:

  1. Don’t Put Yourself in Danger

    If you see a car wreck, pull over. Be extremely careful, and do not cause another wreck by doing so. Make sure that you don’t put yourself in danger. While it’s good that you want to help someone else, it’s better not to chance danger with fires, flames, or broken glass. And don’t forget: Put on your hazard lights!

  2. Call 911

    If two cars smashed and exploded into flames, immediately call 911. No matter the severity of the wreck, the authorities need to know. Tell the 911 operator you’ve witnessed a car accident, and provide the address. When you’re asked, tell the operator any relevant details.

  3. Stay Calm on the Scene

    Keeping your cool after you’ve witnessed a car accident is both necessary and important. Check to make sure that all involved are OK, and assess the situation on a case-by-case basis.

  4. Don’t Perform Medical Treatment

    Unless you’re a trained EMT, do not perform medical treatment. You could be held liable if something goes terribly wrong. Wrecks can be scary, and sometimes people get hurt — but use your best judgment and don’t be a hero. You’ve called the authorities; let them do their jobs.

  5. Give the Police a Statement

    When the police get to the scene, be forthcoming with relevant details and your contact information. Do not discuss fault with the people in the accident; there could be negative consequences. Only speak about the wreck to the police. If there are any relevant details for medical professionals, let them know, as well.

  6. Be Available for Comment

    When you leave the scene of a wreck, you may be called on by medical authorities, police officers, or insurance agents. Make sure that you’ve given everyone your contact information, in case you are needed for comment in the weeks following the accident. Don’t change your story, and always tell the truth.

  7. Drive Safely

    After you’ve spoken to the police and given your contact information, it’s time for you to keep on motoring. While witnessing a car accident can be frightening, drive safely and with confidence away from the scene. You’ve done your good deed for the day.