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
The sooner your insurance company knows about the crash, the better. They can help your teenager get back on the road safely.
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.