If you are one of the first to the scene of an accident, you have certain responsibilities. Whether Texas law requires it or not, you should remain at the scene and assist those in need. You may have the power to save a life as a witness. Although you should never move an injured person unless he or she is in immediate danger, you could take other actions to help, such as calling the police. You could also lend your assistance by testifying about what you saw. To learn more about Texas accident laws consult with an expert Dallas personal injury lawyer today!
By Texas Law, What Is a Witness Required to Do?
By Texas law, a witness does not have any legal responsibilities at the scene of an accident or thereafter. No law requires witnesses to stay or render aid unless they were directly involved in the accident. If you were in an accident in Texas, you must call the police if it caused injuries, deaths or more than $1,000 in property damage. If you only witnessed the accident, you are not legally obligated to call the police or render assistance to those injured. It could save a life, however, if you choose to remain on the scene and be a Good Samaritan.
Do not be afraid of becoming liable for someone’s injuries if you stop to help that person at the scene of an accident. Texas, like many states, has a law that protects Good Samaritans from liability for rendering good faith assistance. The Good Samaritan Law states that if you witness an accident and stop to help those involved, the accident victims cannot file claims against you, even if you unintentionally worsened their injuries or damaged their properties. It protects any witnesses, volunteer first responders and unlicensed medical personnel who act in good faith to help others at the scene of an accident.
If you witness an accident in Texas, remain at the scene and help as much as possible. Do not assume another person has already notified the police. Call 911 yourself if you see anyone with injuries or property damage that appears to exceed $1,000. Ask those involved if they need you to call an ambulance. Try to not move any injured person unless he or she is in imminent danger, such as in a burning vehicle. Moving someone the wrong way could exacerbate an injury. Instead, stay with the person and try to keep him or her calm while you wait for paramedics.
Do You Need to Testify?
Another way in which you could help accident victims is with your testimony. Testifying about what you witnessed could clear up confusion about how the accident occurred. If you remain at the scene of the accident until the police arrive, they may ask you to give a recorded statement about what happened. It is up to you to give the statement or not. You can also leave your name and contact information with those involved in the accident.
While giving a statement or testimony about an accident you witnessed, stick to the facts and only answer the questions asked. Do not embellish or speculate about fault. Answer honestly and accurately. The only time the law will force you to testify as an accident witness is if you receive a subpoena to do so. A subpoena is a court order requiring the named party to testify or appear in court. If you do not receive a subpoena, you do not have to testify if you do not want to.
Can You Decline a Court Appearance?
Most car accident cases settle without requiring trials in court. Some severe or complex cases, however, may go to court to resolve. If an accident you witnessed ends up in court, one or both sides may call you in to appear as a witness. Your account of events could be a type of evidence. You may have to make a statement under oath and answer questions from one or both attorneys. Again, the only time you will have to appear in court or attend a deposition is if you receive a subpoena. Without a subpoena, it will be up to you whether or not to appear in court if asked. If you choose to go to court, prepare to answer questions from both sides about what you saw.