What Should I do if I Witnessed a Car Accident

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

Last updated Thursday, August 18th, 2022

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’ve witnessed a car accident in Chicago, there can be an urge to want to help. This help must be provided without putting yourself or anyone else in danger.

Witness an accident? Our team at Shuman Legal would like you to keep a few things in mind if you’ve witnessed a car accident in Chicago. Personal safety should be a top concern. Even if you witness a fatal car accident, there are basic guidelines to follow.

I’ve Just Witnessed a Car Accident: What Now?

Being involved in an accident is different than witnessing a car accident. Should you call someone? Should you pull over? Whether you witness a fatal car accident or minor fender bender, stick to these six steps.

1. Safely Pull Over. If you witness a car accident in Illinois, pull over. Slow down and look for a safe place nearby. Stay at least 100 feet away from the accident. Turn hazard lights on to alert other drivers.

2. Report the Accident. Call 9-1-1 after you witness an accident. Tell the operator what you saw and basic whereabouts. Provide intersection street names if in town. The nearest mile marker or exit ramp are helpful details when on a freeway.

The operator may ask for injury specifics and how many people are hurt. You could be asked to find out if accident victims are conscious, coherent, have a pulse, are trapped in vehicles, or bleeding.

3. Don’t be a Hero. See an accident in Chicago? You may feel it is your duty to start moving people or try to offer aid. DO NOT move anyone unless you see they are in imminent danger. An example could be if a man is lying next to a fiery vehicle; he might die in seconds if he isn’t moved.

Unless you are qualified or asked by the 9-1-1 operator, forgo offering medical assistance. If the operator asks if you’re ready and willing to perform emergency care, understand your rights.

4. Stay Safe. Make personal safety a priority after you’ve witnessed a car accident in Chicago. It’s easy to become distracted after witnessing a serious accident. Just focus.

Use caution and mind your distance around other vehicles. Other drivers might be too preoccupied with the accident to stop or slow down fast enough. You don’t want to become involved in an accident yourself.

5. Wait for Authorities. You may be able to comfort someone who is disoriented 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 moving these vehicles only if asked by an authority. Avoid driving wrecked vehicles after witnessing a car accident.

6. Get the Scoop. Jot 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 you can share this info with them too.

Legal Tip: Just because you want to help, doesn’t mean you should or are qualified to. If you see an accident in Chicago, you’re not legally required to offer aid to accident victims. Don’t give medical assistance to victims unless specially asked to do so. While the Good Samaritan Law in Illinois generally protects those who offer aid to accident victims, it can only do so much. Be proactive; protect yourself.

I Was in a Car Accident; How do I Find Witnesses?

The best time to find witnesses is immediately after the wreck. However, due to the chaos, it might not be possible to jot down statements. Here are some ways to locate car accident witnesses.

• Ask Involved Parties. Reach out to the witnesses you know. These folks may be able to share the contact information of others who can confirm what happened.
• Collect Details at the Accident Scene. Even if you’re preoccupied, you can use a smartphone to record eyewitness accounts onsite. Be sure to at least get witnesses’ contact information. If you can’t get names and numbers, enlist the help of someone else who was in the vehicle.
• Return to the Scene. When an accident occurs in public, chances are someone saw something. Ask residents, workers, and business owners who frequent that area if they witnessed what happened.
• Review the Police Report. You’ll need to request a copy of your police report as it will contain a lot of very important data about your case. Here’s how to find yours. Reading over this document may show who called 9-1-1 and ultimately who witnessed your accident. If these persons are on file, a way to contact them could be listed as well.

Have you been injured in a Car Accident? Get FREE Expert Legal Advice Now!
Call us at 312-422-0700

When a Witness Comes Forward After the Fact

It’s best if a witness is found at the scene, but this isn’t always what happens. Even if a person didn’t give official statements, this person may 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 Fatal Car Accident?

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed if you witnessed a car accident where a victim was fatally injured. Shock and sadness may hit you. This dismal sight may tug at those heartstrings.

witnessing a fatal car accident


While your first instinct may be to help those involved, it’s also a good idea to make your mental health a priority. Witnessing a car accident can be stressful. Witnessing an accident where someone was killed can be traumatic. Consider taking the following actions after such an event.

• Offer contact information to the person traveling with the victim.
• Provide a witness statement to first responders.
• Speak with a counselor, therapist, or spiritual leader about the accident.

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?

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.

Get Our Team, Working In Your Favor

Sidebar top Sidebar bottom
Most Trusted Lawyer

Shuman Legal named as one of America's Most Trusted Lawyers Award for the 6th year in a row.

2017 Most Trusted Lawyers2018 Most Trusted Lawyers2019 Most Trusted Lawyers2020 Most Trusted Lawyers2021 Most Trusted Lawyers2022 Most Trusted Lawyers