What Should I do if I Witnessed a Car Accident?

What Should I do if I Witnessed a Car Accident in Illinois?

Last updated Monday, March 13th, 2023

What Should I do if I Witnessed a Car Accident in Illinois?

Witness a car accident in Illinois?

Witnessing a car accident happens to most people at one time or another. After you have witnessed a car accident in Chicago, there may be an urgent need to want to help. This help must be provided without endangering you or anyone else.

Have you witnessed an accident? Our team at Shuman Legal® would like you to keep a few things in mind if you have witnessed a car accident in Chicago. Personal safety must be a primary concern. Even if you witness a fatal car accident, there are basic guidelines to follow.

I just witnessed a car accident: now what?

Being involved in an accident is different than witnessing a car accident. Should you call someone? Should you stop? Whether you’re witnessing a fatal car accident or a minor crash, follow these six steps.

  1. Stop safely. If you witness a car accident in Illinois, pull over. Slow down and find a safe place nearby. Stay at least 100 feet away from the accident. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers.
  1. Report the Accident. Call 9-1-1 after witnessing an accident. Tell the operator what he saw and the basic data. Please provide the street names of the intersections if you are in the city. The nearest mile marker or exit ramp are useful details when you’re on a freeway.

The operator can request specific information about injuries and how many people were injured. You may be asked to find out if accident victims are conscious, coherent, have a pulse, are trapped in vehicles, or are bleeding.

  1. Don’t be a hero. Do you see an accident in Chicago? You may feel it is your duty to start moving people or try to offer help. DO NOT move anyone unless you see they are in imminent danger. An example might be if a man is lying next to a burning vehicle; I could be dead in seconds if he doesn’t move.

Unless you are qualified or requested by the 9-1-1 operator, please decline to offer medical assistance. If the operator asks if you are ready and willing to provide emergency care, understand your rights.

  1. Stay safe. Make personal safety a priority after you’ve witnessed a Chicago car accident. It is easy to get distracted after witnessing a serious accident. Just focus.

Be careful and watch your distance around other vehicles. Other drivers may be too concerned about the accident to stop or slow down quickly enough. You do not want to be involved in an accident yourself.

  1. Wait for the authorities. You may be able to comfort someone who is confused or upset. Offer your phone to an accident victim who needs to make a call.

Vehicles may need to be moved out of traffic lanes. Assist in the movement of these vehicles only if requested by an authority. Avoid driving wrecked vehicles after witnessing a car accident.

  1. Get the scoop. Write down the basics of what happened. Take photos from a safe distance. Request contact information from accident victims so you can forward what you collect. Advise first responders that you can share this information with them as well.

Legal Advice:  Just because you want to help doesn’t mean you should or are qualified to do so. If you see an accident in Chicago, you are not legally required to offer help to accident victims. Do not provide medical assistance to victims unless specifically requested. While the Illinois Good Samaritan Law generally protects those who offer help to accident victims, it can’t do much. Be proactive; Protect yourself.

I had an automobile accident; How do I find witnesses?

The best time to find witnesses is immediately after the accident. However, due to the chaos, it may not be possible to annotate statements. Here are some ways to locate witnesses to car accidents .

  • Ask the parties involved. Contact witnesses you know. These people may share the contact information of other people who can confirm what happened.
  • Collect details at the accident scene . Even if you are worried, you can use a smartphone to record eyewitness accounts on the spot. Be sure to get at least the contact information of the witnesses. If you can’t get names and numbers, ask someone else who was in the vehicle to help you.
  • Return to the Scene . When an accident occurs in public, chances are someone saw something. Ask residents, workers, and business owners who frequent the area if they witnessed what happened.
  • Review the Police Report. You will need to ask for a copy of your police report , as it will contain a lot of very important information about your case. Here’s how to find yours. Reading this document can show who called 9-1-1 and ultimately who witnessed their accident. If these people are registered, you could also include a way to contact them.

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When a witness comes forward after the fact

It is best if a witness is found at the scene, but this is not always the case. Even if a person did not give official statements, this person can still be considered a witness.

Witnesses aren’t always sure what they saw could be of value. Witnesses could be busy, but later remember they should have stopped to give their information. Statements from these witnesses may be included in the case, although the judge and jury may not find them as credible as other statements.

Witness a Car Accident in Illinois?

There are a few scenarios that witnesses may fall into when believing they witnessed a car accident in Chicago. Which category applies to you?

witnessing a fatal car accident


  1. You can provide insight because you actually witnessed a car accident.This situation calls for safely pulling over to share contact information with relevant parties. If pulling over is not an option, consider calling the non-emergency police line to give a statement.
  2. You notice an accident after it has happened.If help is on the scene and you didn’t actually witness an accident, then you can’t help. Safely leaving the immediate area is the best option.
  3. You see where an accident occurred, but don’t see any help on the scene.Follow the six steps listed earlier.

Practicing Good Witness Behavior 

It’s not every day you see an accident in Chicago. This event can stir up emotions. People can behave erratically or even poorly. Remain calm. Offer help.

Report the accident, provide an eyewitness account and take clear photos of the scene. Share contact information. Such actions can be invaluable to accident victims.

Bounce Back After You’ve Witnessed a Car Accident in Chicago 

Details of a minor accident may wrap up soon. But legal issues may continue long after a major car accident occurs. Witness a fatal car accident? You could potentially be involved in this situation for years.

Concerned about your legal obligations if you witness a car accident? The experienced Chicago car accident lawyers at Shuman Legal understand your dilemma. We’re happy to address your concerns. Our experienced lawyers ensure your legal rights are protected.

Can a Relative Witness a Car Accident in Illinois?

A relative may have been riding in the same vehicle or following behind when the accident occurred. Sometimes a relative may be the only person who saw what happened.

While not ideal, relative witness statements can be taken into account. The problem is that a relative typically does not have a neutral mindset. Relatives may also have something to gain from a favorable case outcome. Such testimonials may not be considered as credible as those from unrelated parties.

Need Help After Your Car Accident?

Our team at Shuman Legal understands these situations and may be able to help. We can review your case for free, offer advice and discuss the types of cases we represent. Contact us to learn more.

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