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What Should You Do if You Witness an Auto Accident?

Witnessing an auto accident can be a stressful situation. While your first priority is to ensure your safety if you witnessed a car accident, there are steps you can take to help people involved in the collision.

You are not legally required to do anything if you witnessed an auto accident in Oklahoma. However, keep in mind that your actions could potentially save someone’s life. Also, by staying at the scene of a car crash that you witnessed and taking an active role in the aftermath of a car accident, you can ensure that the at-fault party is held responsible and the victim is compensated for their damages and losses.

So, what should you do if you witness an automobile accident?

Five Things to Do After Witnessing an Auto Accident

There are five steps you can take if you witnessed a car crash.

     Ensure Your Safety and Pull Over: If you are driving when you witness a car crash, make sure that it is safe to stop and pull over to the side of the road. It is recommended to pull over at least 100 feet away from the scene of the accident. Before exiting your vehicle, turn on your hazard lights and check your side- and rear-view mirrors to make sure that it is safe to get out.

     Dial 911 to Get Help on the Way: Many car accident witnesses assume that someone else has already called 911. It is best to be on the safe side and contact the authorities even if the crash does not appear to be serious. When talking to the 911 operator, notify them of the location, number of vehicles and people involved, and other relevant details. OK Stat § 47-10-107 requires drivers of motor vehicles involved in a car crash that resulted in bodily injury or death to report the accident to a local police department.

     Check on the Victims: If it is safe to get closer to the scene of the auto accident, approach the victims to make sure that everyone is fine. If you can, offer your help, but avoid moving injured victims unless there is an apparent risk of cars catching fire or exploding. Moving a victim could accidentally worsen their injuries. It is best to call an ambulance to the scene and wait for trained medical professionals to help the victims.

     Talk to the Police and Give All Relevant Information: When the police arrive at the scene, tell the officers that you witnessed the car accident and give them a statement. While you have no legal obligation to do it, doing so can help the victims obtain compensation for their injuries down the line. Your statement could make a big difference. When speaking with police officers, stick to the facts and provide the relevant information about the accident, what you saw moments leading up to the collision, and how the crash occurred. If you cannot wait for the police to get to the scene, write down what you saw. You can call the police department later in the day and tell them that you want to submit your statement about a car crash that you witnessed.

     Provide Your Contact Information: It is important to give your contact information to all the parties involved. Yes, you may be contacted in the days or weeks following the auto accident. While your statements could be used to help establish fault, it does not necessarily mean that you will be required to attend depositions or testify in court because the vast majority of all car accident cases are settled before trial.

If you witnessed an auto accident, it might be a good idea to contact a motor vehicle accident lawyer to determine how you can help the victims seek the compensation they deserve. Contact our car accident attorneys at Boettcher, Devinney, Ingle & Wicker to talk about your particular situation. Call at 580.765.9660 or email us to schedule a consultation and discuss your legal rights and responsibilities.

2. Is self-defense a violent crime

Is Self-Defense a Violent Crime?

No, self-defense is not a violent crime. Instead, self-defense is a defense to various violent crimes, including murder, battery, and assault. The legal defense can be used when a victim intentionally injures or kills an attacker who threatens them with immediate physical harm or inflicts bodily injuries. Self-defense occurs when the victim uses physical force to protect themselves and stop or avoid being harmed.

Justifiable Homicide a Self-Defense in Oklahoma

When most people hear the word “homicide,” they immediately think about a serious violent crime. However, homicide is not always a violent crime. As absurd as it might sound, homicide can be lawful. Oklahoma law recognizes “justifiable homicide” as the killing of another person that can be justified.

Under 21 OK Stat § 21-733, justifiable homicide occurs when a person kills another person to:

     Defend themselves against an assault, murder, or any other violent felony;

     Defend their dwelling house from felony crimes;

     Defend another person from being seriously harmed or killed; or

     Stop or apprehend a person for any felony committed, suppress any riot, or attempt to keep and preserve the peace.

What are Self-Defense Laws in Oklahoma?

The State of Oklahoma recognizes that the use of physical or deadly force may be justified for the protection of yourself or others against people who commit felonies, cause serious harm, or threaten their safety.

Self-defense laws in Oklahoma are comprised of three doctrines:

     Castle Doctrine. The old adage says that a man’s home is his castle, which is why the first self-defense doctrine is called the “Castle Doctrine” in Oklahoma. The doctrine allows homeowners to use physical and lethal force to defend themselves against an intruder if there is a reasonable belief that they are at risk of serious bodily injury or death.

     Make My Day. Under 21 OK Stat § 21-1289.25, people have a right to protect themselves and use physical and lethal force in their homes, other people’s residences, businesses, and occupied vehicles against a person who made or attempted to make an unlawful and forcible entry onto the dwelling.

     Stand Your Ground. Under the doctrine, a person has no legal duty to retreat or attempt to flee a dangerous situation when another person engages in illegal activities. The doctrine allows that person to protect themselves and others by using any degree of physical force when their lives are in jeopardy.

Exceptions and Limitations on Self-Defense in Oklahoma

There are situations in which the use of physical or deadly force against another person is not justifiable. Some exceptions and limitations on self-defense in Oklahoma are:

     Physical force is used against a person who has a legal right to be in the house, dwelling, occupied vehicle, or place of business;

     The person against whom force is used is lawfully removing or attempting to remove children under their legal custody; and

     The person who uses physical or deadly forces is engaged in criminal or any illegal activity.

The use of force is not justifiable in any of these situations. Even though self-defense is not a violent crime in Oklahoma, the person who used defensive force against another individual should consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer to protect their rights and prove that self-defense was necessary. Contact our attorneys at Boettcher, Devinney, Ingle & Wicker to discuss your particular situation. Call at 580.765.9660 to schedule a free consultation.

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