When there’s an accident on the road, other people passing by may stop at the scene and try to help. This sometimes proves invaluable and saves lives. However, these Good Samaritans also need to be alert to the dangers they may face.
At a recent accident on I-70, a truck driver pulled over behind the scene of a collision and got out of his vehicle to apparently direct oncoming traffic away from the scene. As it turns out, none of the people involved in the collision were injured, but the truck driver wound up getting struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle.
If you’re a Good Samaritan trying to help out crash victims, you have to be mindful of your own safety too. The following are some tips:
- Call 911. Especially if the accident victims are in no shape to summon emergency services themselves, you’re helping them out and possibly saving their lives. And you don’t even need to get out of your vehicle to do this.
- Keep track of what’s going on and what you saw. You may be called upon to be a witness.
- If possible, park your car on the side of the road. Don’t leave your car standing in the middle of oncoming traffic or right next to an accident scene. If you park too close to the accident scene, you may be putting yourself and oncoming vehicles in danger. You may also be impeding emergency personnel.
- Take care and stay out of the path of traffic. Don’t assume that if there isn’t heavy traffic or if there’s good visibility, drivers will be able to see you and stop in time. Always be mindful of where you’re positioning yourself, and take care not to wander too far onto the road. If you want to alert oncoming drivers about the crash, turn your vehicle’s hazard lights on (lighting a flare might work too, but if there’s leaked fuel, this is a bad idea). Don’t walk onto the road and try to direct traffic away.
- Assess the dangers. Before getting close to the scene, note any dangers such as leaking fuel and downed electric lines. When you call 911, you can also give emergency personnel a heads up about these dangers. Don’t just rush onto the scene.
- Don’t do anything you aren’t trained to do. Know your limitations and capabilities. If you have no medical training, don’t attempt any treatments. Unless they’re in immediate danger, don’t try to move car accident victims around, as this could exacerbate their injuries. If the most you can do is stay next to a victim and talk to them to give them comfort and keep them conscious, then that’s what you should do. If their vehicle is still running, and you can safely turn off the ignition for them, this is another thing you can do to help.
As experienced Indiana injury lawyers who are regularly contacted by people for assistance after an accident, we applaud the noble intentions of Good Samaritans who try to help car accident victims. But we also want to emphasize how important it is to stay safe yourself when trying to help others.