Most days are uneventful travel-wise, but there may come a day when you witness an accident. Rather than just be a lookey-loo who is more likely to hinder the accident victim(s) from getting help, you could be instrumental to getting them the help they need for immediate and long-term recovery.
How to Immediately Help a Downed Motorcycle Rider
The level of exposure and vulnerability of motorcycle riders make witnessing a motorcycle accident shocking, leaving many witnesses stunned into silence and inactivity. The first way you can help as a witness is to keep your head so that you can think and act. The actions that will be most helpful to a motorcycle accident victim are:
- Look after your own safety first
Motorcycle accident victims cannot benefit from your help if you, too, become an accident victim. So, if you decide to stop and help:
- Stop and park your car a safe distance away from the accident scene. This leaves rooms for emergency vehicles to get closer to the victim when they arrive.
- Be careful to avoid putting yourself in the path of traffic
- Do not approach the victim if the scene is unsafe (e.g. there are downed power lines)
- Call 911
Even if you are trained to provide emergency first aid, you are one person. You will need help. Before you start to directly assist the victim, make sure help is on the way. You can also tell someone else to call 911, but you must very specifically designate the responsibility—i.e., point to someone with a cell phone in their hand, make eye contact and say, “You, call 911.”
- Provide emergency first aid
If you have training, you may begin to administer emergency first aid. However, exercise caution while doing so:
- Do not move the motorcycle accident victim
- Do not remove the motorcycle rider’s helmet
It is imperative that you keep the victim as still and stable as possible to prevent making possible spinal injuries or other fractures worse.
If you have no emergency first aid training, you can do the legwork to try to find someone who does among other bystanders who have stopped. You can also search for medical supplies (hopefully, there’s a first aid kit in your own vehicle.)
- Facilitate a safe environment for first responders
You can help a motorcycle accident victim by making sure that first responders are safe and that one accident does not lead to more accidents by:
- Setting out road flares or cones
- Signaling to oncoming traffic that there is an accident ahead with flares, flashlight or hand signals
If you have a reflective vest, put it on so that you are visible!
How to Assist a Motorcycle Accident Victim’s Legal Case
You do not have to be involved with first aid to be helpful as a motorcycle accident witness. Many motorcycle accidents happen by no fault of the rider, so there will likely be civil litigation and/or a criminal case. You can help the accident victim seek justice by:
- Taking photos or videos of the accident scene
- Taking notes about the accident scene (e.g. weather, traffic conditions)
- Taking down names and contact information of other witnesses, noting who may be willing to testify in the event of a trial
It could be months before any legal action is pursued, so don’t throw away your notes if you don’t hear anything for weeks. If possible, talk directly to a law enforcement officer or aid who reports to the scene to let them know what information you have collected and how to get a hold of you.