Traffic accidents: should we help the "little guy"


Dear Hartzell,

I was wondering what the “expectation” was for assisting people who are sustain injuries in a traffic accident. I’ve always thought there was a reasonable moral responsibility to help if there’s a problem (eg; little guy on motorbike wiped out by taxi driver). Is it so different here?

Too often, too many people simply stand around gaping at the “little guy” who, broken and bruised, must pick up his bike (and the various parts of him which are spread across the road) and quickly dust himself off or risk being completely snotted by the backed-up traffic behind. It’s an appalling and perverse form of entertainment!

I too have seen a few “hit and runs”, but have been warned by locals to especially avoid offering help in these situations, as there’s an even greater risk of a victim accusing a bystander of responsibility.

I’d like to help, but not if there’s finger-pointing and legal trouble. I guess there are many who share my frustration, especially those who have been injured while driving, but I’m particularly interested in the legal aspect. So what’s up?




The two times I’ve crashed (one was two weeks ago and I’m still injured - hit and run), people have helped me straight away. I think you should help, but that’s a moral thing not a legal thing. Just don’t move someone if they’re seriously injured (it could make it worse if it’s a spinal injury or something, or leave you open to the accusation that it made it worse) and don’t move their bike without asking (they might want it in that place to prove to the police that it was the other guys help. What you can do to help is help them off the road if they can’t walk, call an ambulance, lend them your phone to use, move their bike if they can’t or get them a taxi for the hospital. I was very grateful to the guy that helped me.



This is obviously a moral question isn’t it? Or is it? In Taiwan I often here people say, don’t help, don’t watch, just keep going. Why? Well, it’s probably safe to say that when you are in an accident you cannot focus on anything immediately. You want to know “who” hit you. And maybe the person who did fled the sceen and maybe no one else saw it. So who is the first person they see and want to blame? “YOU!!!” Even if there were other witnesses, they may not back you up or take your side. Why? Because they don’t want to get involved or also be blamed. It is a certainaly a dilemma to help or not to help… The choice is ultimately yours…