Neither Indiana nor federal law requires you to stop and help if you merely witness a car accident. Most U.S. states are the same way; citizens are not obligated to provide aid to those involved in a car accident.
On the other hand, those directly involved in the accident are legally bound to stop. Failure to do so will make you guilty of a hit and run, which is a criminal offense.
Good Samaritan Laws
If you do decide to get out of your car, you may be comforted to know that you cannot be sued by those you try to help. You may have heard stories of bystanders who rushed to help car accident victims only to be wrapped up in their lawsuit later on.
Indiana state law clearly protects even those who accidentally cause harm in their effort to lend aid. Unless your actions are grossly negligent or intentionally malicious, you cannot be sued by anyone for stopping to help victims of an accident.
In addition, the Good Samaritan Act protects professionals who volunteer aid during other crises, like engineers who help rebuild or clean up after natural disasters.
How You Can Help
Depending on the severity of the car accident you witness, you can take several steps to help those involved.
- Call 911 immediately to inform local authorities about the accident
- Find out if anyone involved needs medical attention, informing 911 of any injuries
- Leave seriously injured people where they are; moving them could worsen their condition
- Remove injured victims from dangerous situations if possible
- Cooperate with police and other authorities when they arrive at the scene
- Give a statement to the police and/or involved parties about the accident
Even though you’re not required by law to be a Good Samaritan, the fact remains that ordinary citizens save lives when they step up to help.
Eyewitness accounts of car accidents help attorneys and insurance adjusters piece together a more complete picture of the accident, which helps them agree on each driver’s comparative fault. The extent to which each driver is at fault can significantly affect how much he or she receives in damages. Because of this, witness testimonies are crucial for everyone involved.
Giving your contact information to involved drivers after a car accident means you may be contacted by insurance adjusters or lawyers for a statement. Depending on the lawyers involved and the type of claim being sought, you may be asked to answer questions under oath in writing or called to be questioned by attorneys from both sides in person.
Some witnesses are more reliable, and therefore more valuable, than others. If you witnessed the accident from start to finish without any distractions, your account of what happened is more likely to influence the case than someone driving by the accident shortly after it happened.
No matter how you witnessed the crash, it’s important to be consistent in your testimony. As soon as you can, take a moment to write down everything you saw and did to help the drivers involved. Trials move slowly, and it may be weeks before lawyers or insurance adjusters contact you for a statement. Putting the event in writing will help solidify the memory and provide you with a record to help answer their questions.
Questions about Liability in Evansville
If you’ve recently witnessed or been involved in a car accident in Evansville, you may have questions about your rights and liabilities. Call or contact the Evansville car accident attorneys at Hensley Legal Group for a free legal consultation. You can also download our eBook, Consumer’s Guide for Injured Victims, if you or someone you know has been recently injured in an Evansville car accident.