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What to Do if You Witness a Car Accident in Portland

Car accidents happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Sometimes you will hear a car crash before you actually see it – the screeching of tires, the shattering of glass. Other times, you see the entire thing happen – maybe a mistake made by another driver, such as running a red light or cutting another driver off. You may see a driver swerving into another lane, or one driver tailgating another at unsafe speeds. Often, there’s not much you can do other than to watch it happen.

Being a witness to a car accident can be a traumatic event, an experience you’re eager to forget. However, having witnessed an automobile accident, you now have a valuable part to play in the aftermath.

Witnessing a Car Accident in Portland

Your presence at the scene of the accident can be a valuable aid to both police officers, as well as the people involved in the crash. As a bystander, you may have information you can offer on the causes and conditions surrounding the accident. Provided you’re not injured yourself, you may be able to assist accident victims. According to the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), if you’ve witnessed a car accident you should do the following:

  • Stop your car and pull over. Make sure you are not blocking traffic and that your car will not be in the way of police or rescue workers. Be sure the spot you have pulled over to is safe before exiting your car.
  • Call the police. Dial 911 and report the accident. Even if you suspect someone else may have reported it, call anyway, just to be safe.
  • Offer assistance to victims. Call for an ambulance if needed. While it’s not a good idea to move a victim, you can provide comfort and reassurance that help is on the way.
  • Give a statement to police. When the police do arrive, identify yourself to them as a witness to the accident. Try to remember any details, as well as incidentals, such as road conditions, weather, etc. Give the police you address and phone number, and ask for the officer’s card so you can call if any further details come to mind.
  • Don’t get involved in disputes between the drivers. Don’t debate with the people in the accident regarding who was or wasn’t at fault.

Witnessing Reckless Driving in Portland

If you are on the road and witness another car driving recklessly, there are some actions you can take that may help to avoid a car accident. The DMV advises drivers to report incidents of reckless driving by calling your local law enforcement, or by dialing 911. Additionally, the Oregon State Police offers the following safety tips for dealing with reckless drivers:

  • Be wary of drivers following too close, or tailgating. Not only is it dangerous, it’s against the law. Report drivers following too close to police.
  • Be aware of traffic clues. Watch for signs of developing emergencies, such as sudden stopping or swerving by other drivers.
  • Pay close attention in work zones. Slow down and give other drivers plenty of room.
  • Watch for ahead for wrong way drivers. Don’t drive on the inside lane for long periods of time at night; wrong way drivers are frequently on the inside lane or inside shoulder, mistaking it for another lane.

Contact Our Portland Car Accident Attorneys

If you or someone you know has witnessed or been involved in a car accident, contact our experienced car accident attorneys immediately. At the Johnston Law Firm, our attorneys have extensive experience in dealing with the various situations and circumstances surrounding car accidents. Before talking to an insurance company, call our Portland accident attorneys for a free review of your case.


Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.