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What to Do If You Witness a Car Accident

Approximately 5.4 million car accidents happen in the United States each year. You may know what to do if you’re involved in a car accident. But do you know what to do if you witness a car accident?

Witnesses to car accidents can play a critical role in ensuring victims’ safety. They can also play a key role in assisting law enforcement and claims adjusters in getting the story straight.

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6 things to do if you witness a car accident

  1. Get out of harm’s way. Before you offer assistance, make sure you’re a safe distance from the crash and in a safe place where other drivers can avoid you. Put on your hazard lights. Before you get out of your car, make sure there aren’t any dangers like downed power lines, broken glass or hazardous fluids. If there are, remain in your car until help arrives.
  2. Help secure the scene. If you have flares or emergency triangles, use them to alert others that danger is ahead. (One exception is if there’s a gasoline leak, skip the flares.)
  3. Call 911. Even if the crash might not seem all that bad, it’s best to call 911 and notify them of what happened.
  4. Check on the victims. Unless you’re a trained medical professional and the situation is urgent, it’s best not to move anyone who is injured. Doing so often causes more harm than good. Instead, let them know that help is on the way. A kind, reassuring voice can help steady victims’ nerves during a stressful time.
  5. Take some photos. Victims may not be able to take photos, so take some if it’s safe to do so. You may be asked for them later by the victims, claims adjusters and/or law enforcement.
  6. Give a statement and/or offer your contact information. If the police arrive, stick around to give a statement of what you witnessed. If they don’t, give your contact information to those involved. Witnesses to car accidents are often called upon by insurance claims adjusters later on.

If your car was one that was damaged, it’s a good idea to call your insurance company ASAP to report the claim. Erie Insurance maintains a 24/7 toll-free line for you to report claims.

ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York).  The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.

The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are in effect as of July 2022 and may be changed at any time. 

Insurance products are subject to terms, conditions and exclusions not described in this blog. The policy contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. 

The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states.  ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York.  ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia or New York.  ERIE long term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York. 

Eligibility will be determined at the time of application based upon applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time.

Your ERIE agent can offer you practical guidance and answer questions you may have before you buy.