What to do if you witness an accident?
If you see an accident, the first thing you should do is call 911.
Living in New York City, it may be more often than not that we witness some type of accident. It may be a car crash, a fall accident, an assault, police misconduct, etc. Travelling on the expressways and thruways it may be a jack-knife or side-swipe involving a tractor-trailer, a car hydroplaning on a wet roadway, a chain reaction and pile-up of several vehicles, etc.
If you see a accident or someone injured, call 911. Sometimes the dangers of an accident require immediate assistance. A car catches on fire and an occupant is stuck in the vehicle because the seat-belt isn’t releasing or the door is jammed closed. Or an accident victim requires first-aid or resuscitation. You already called 911, but you see the imminent danger. Minutes if not seconds matter to save a life or prevent a catastrophic injury. What do you do? Try to help – without placing yourself or others in danger. It takes courage and fast thinking. Try to be a Good Samaritan. You’re probably not a first responder, EMS technician or physician, but there may be things that you can do. And know that your actions of courage are protected by the Good Samaritan laws.
As a witness, you may also try to assist by providing your contact information. We realize that doing the right thing is more important than not wanting to be bothered or getting involved. After all, you are a disinterested witness who simply cares about truth and justice. If the incident involves a hit-and-run – often with pedestrians -, take down the license plate of the offending vehicle or a description of the perpetrator. Perhaps you can record the incident (especially in today’s times of smart phones). Injustices involving excessive force, police misconduct, assault, leaving the scene of an accident, etc., have been brought to light and rectified because of brave witnesses who recorded the event and presented it to the public to see the truth.