It’s every parent’s nightmare. Your teenager calls you and tells you they’ve crashed their (or even worse, your) car. Take a deep breath to stay calm yourself, and try to calm them down. Follow these steps to get them through it.
Ask your teenager if anyone has been hurt. If someone has, they need to call 911. Even if nobody is injured, it’s still a good idea to report an accident to the emergency services.
Get Them To A Safe Place
Ask them if they can drive the car. If they can, tell them to slowly and carefully move the car out of the way of any traffic to avoid further collisions. If they can’t move the car, advise them not to try, and instead get well out of the way of traffic themselves while they wait for the emergency services to arrive. If they can’t get out of the car, make sure they keep their seatbelt fastened, and turn on their hazard lights so they can be as safe as possible.
Don’t Accept Or Place Blame
Make sure they know that no matter what, they should not admit fault or blame the other driver. Instead, suggest they ask if anyone is injured, and don’t talk about the cause of the accident.
Advise them to take some pictures of the accident scene, the damage done, and the license plates of the other car. It’s also a good idea to photograph the road conditions and nearby traffic signs. This will help them to remember the important details later on.
Suggest they swap names, contact information, and insurance company details with anyone else involved. A good way to do this is to take a picture of the other driver’s license and insurance card so they know they have all the details correct. Remind them that they shouldn’t give anyone their social security number.
Advise your teenager to take some notes of important details like:
- The year, make, model, and color of the other vehicle
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers of the other driver and passengers
- The exact location the accident happened
- Their speed
- The date and time of the accident
- The weather conditions
- When the police arrived, and the name and badge number of the officer who came
- The road conditions
- Contact information of witnesses
Call your insurance agent
Once you have notified your agent you will need to go through the process of submitting an insurance claim, this will help to reinstate any losses that your teen may have incurred as a result of the accident. This is known as the insurance claims process.
Here is a quick overview of what to expect from the insurance claims process;
- Once you have filled your claim with your insurance company your agent will evaluate the accident to determine the liability of the incident and who is at fault for the accident. If your teenager was not at fault for the accident then the recovery of losses will be sought from the at-fault party. Although recovery of this money is likely to be done after your teen has received payment for their losses from their insurance provider. If your teen was at fault for the accident they will still be able to recover their losses but should expect their premiums to rise at renewal.
- The agent will also determine exactly what if anything is covered by your policy. You may be required to provide receipts for proof of payment for some items. It is important to remember that even where all of the losses are covered by the insurance policy your teen will still be liable for the pre-agreed deductible payment.
- When the agent has reviewed all of the documentation and the losses have been agreed then the insurance provider will issue payment.
- It is important to remember that your teen will be obliged to assist the insurance provider in recovering losses from the at-fault party, even once they have received payment for their losses. It may be that ongoing paperwork and communication is required until the matter has been fully resolved.
Get A Copy Of The Accident Report
Tell your teenager to ask the police for a copy of the accident report. This should have the name and contact information of the officer. The report will be useful if the case has to go to court.
Call A Tow Truck
If the car can’t be driven, call a tow truck to get the car to a mechanic, and arrange to get your child safely home.
After They Leave The Scene
When your teenager gets home after the accident, explain to them that the insurance company will handle everything from here. They shouldn’t take any further themselves. It might be a good idea for you to take on any phone calls that need to be made and deal with the insurance claim yourself.
Make sure you don’t sign anything from the attorney or insurance company of the other driver. Remember, all of this will be handled by your own insurers.
Decide if you will need a lawyer. If your teenager has been hurt, were driving recklessly, or had been drinking, you may need a personal injury lawyer, an accident attorney, or a DUI lawyer.
Accidents are frightening, and it can be hard to remember what to do when you’re panicking. To help your teenager not panic if a crash does happen, you could help through a practice run when they first learn to drive. Drive somewhere quiet together where you can pretend an accident has occurred, and work through these steps together to help them remember what to do when a real accident occurs. One of the best ways to prepare your teenager for a car accident is to teach them how to avoid one in the first place. Teach them safe driving skills or even defensive driving so they will be less likely to get into an accident. Before allowing them to drive, make sure they know the risks of being distracted by passengers, loud music, or their phone.