Two car rollover accidents occurred in Tampa this week, and thanks to the quick action of concerned motorists, neither of the accidents resulted in serious injuries. Car rollovers are relatively rare, but have the potential to be truly devastating when they happen. These shocking and coincidental accidents highlight the bravery of our city’s good samaritans, as well as the proper way to go about helping fellow drivers in need.
On Sept. 24, dozens of Tampa drivers on the I-75 pitched in to rescue the passengers of an SUV that flipped over after a tire ruptured. One of the victims, a nine-year-old child, was partially stuck underneath the SUV.
“We achieved what would have been impossible by coming together,” Dayna Gibson, one of the Good Samaritans, said to Bay News 9. “There were people from all walks of life there, it didn’t matter.”
Similarly, drivers worked together to assist a woman whose vehicle overturned on the Selmon Expressway on the morning of Sept. 28. After she was pulled out of her car by helpful passersby, the victim of the accident walked away from the accident with no injuries.
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People have a natural impulse to help others in need after a car accident, but knowing the right and wrong way to assist someone is essential. It will help you to avoid hurting yourself and others in the process.
If you witness a car accident, here are some key dos and don’ts to remember before pitching in to help:
Do: Know the Law
Good Samaritan laws protect the people from liability who try to provide care to another in an emergency situation, even if they inadvertently hurt the person as a result of the aid or treatment. However, not every state has these laws.
In our state, however, the Good Samaritan Act stipulates that “any person, including those licensed to practice medicine, who gratuitously and in good faith renders emergency care or treatment either in direct response to emergency situations shall not be held liable for any civil damages as a result of such care or treatment.” So those who in live in Florida who want to help as a first responder to an accident are protected.
Don’t: Block Traffic With Your Vehicle
Never stop your car in a lane of moving traffic to respond to a car accident. Not only does this put your life at risk, as another motorist could hit you or your vehicle, but it could also potentially block emergency medical service vehicles and law enforcement from entering the scene.
Instead, if you witness a car accident and want to help, pull your car over to the side or shoulder of the road. Be sure your hazard lights are on.
Do: Call Emergency Services
When you are safely pulled over to the side of the road, call emergency services as soon as possible. Describe the scene of the accident, if there are any signs of imminent danger such as a car fire or smoke, your specific location, and share any details that will help emergency responders to spot you and the accident as quickly as possible.
Don’t: Move the Victim Unless They Are in Immediate Danger
You should always ask a conscious victim of a car accident if they would like your assistance before aiding or moving them, advises Road & Travel Magazine. In the case of an unconscious victim, do not move them unless they are in immediate danger.
It’s best to wait for medical professionals to move the victim, because you can sometimes unintentionally cause further harm to the victim inadvertently by picking them up. However, if the victim is in immediate danger — like the rollover accident victims this week who were trapped under their vehicles, or, perhaps, unconscious victims stuck in a burning car — you might have to do what you can to remove them from harm right away.
Do: Protect the Victim and Other Responders From Potential Car Accidents
Many first responders put their lives at risk to help others, and sadly, it is not uncommon for these responders to be struck by a passing car while trying to aid others. While Florida has a Move Over Law that protects fire, emergency medical, and law enforcement personnel acting as first responders, according to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, these protections do not extend to Good Samaritans trying to help.
It’s important, therefore, to set down flares or any other objects that can get the attention of passing motorists a few hundred feet on other side of the accident until the authorities can arrive. This will ideally alert passing drivers to slow down and be cautious until they have passed the scene of the wreck.
Although you can feel assured that your fellow drivers will help out if you’re in trouble on the road, car accidents are still a major concern in the Tampa metro area. Have you been recently hurt in a car accident due to the negligence of another motorist? If so, our attorneys may be able to help.