There’s a phone call that parents of teen drivers dread but it’s one that hundreds of thousands of parents get a year: Your teenager has been in a car accident.
The next words fall on deaf ears. Even when the call is coming from your teenager, you don’t hear them. You wonder if they’re okay, even as they speak to you.
Beyond the health and safety of your teen, you want to make sure that a car accident doesn’t bankrupt you and your family. Having a teen who knows what to do during and before an accident can make a difference in how much a car accident costs.
Small fender benders and minor accidents happen every day. Here are some tips to prepare your teen for accidents.
What Teens Should Do At The Scene of the Car Accident
Car accidents cause the mind and body a great deal of stress in the moments following a crash. In an attempt to keep the body from feeling pain or being distracted by an injury, the human body floods your bloodstream with adrenaline.
This is a great survival tactic for running from wild animals but not so great for making rational decisions after a car accident.
So that your teen doesn’t panic in this important moments following a car accident, make a to-do list in case of emergency. Send it to them via email and put a paper copy in their glovebox with their registration.
Even if they’re overcome with stress and anxiety following a crash, they’ll be able to minimize later issues by following this list.
Your teen needs to ask any passengers if there is an injury in the car. Then they should look around at the other vehicle and see if there appears to be an injury. Call 911 and ask the other driver if they’re injured.
Even if there are no injuries, likely police will need to assist in diverting or waving traffic around the scene. First responders are trained in checking for common injuries that follow a car accident. Having an expert take a quick look is always a good idea.
Get Out Of The Way
Can the car be moved or is it totally destroyed? If they can drive the car at all, they should slowly move out of traffic and to the side of the road. If the car doesn’t move, they shouldn’t try.
The car should have its hazard lights on and be as far out of the way as possible without moving far from the scene of the car accident.
If they’re injured, they should stay in the car with their seatbelt on until help arrives.
Don’t Blame Anyone
Tell them that being overly polite and admitting fault for a car accident they didn’t cause can be costly. They should avoid getting angry and placing blame on anyone else.
Speaking with the other driver and being sympathetic to their injuries is only human. Just don’t be quick to accept or place blame before the insurance company assesses the damage.
Your teen should get out their phone and take some photos of everyone involved in the car accident. Getting a photo of license plates and damage done to each car can be useful later, as details are hard to remember even later that day.
Tell them they should get photos of the roads, any signs, or any traffic lights involved. They should note the direction each car was traveling as well. These can be important to a speedy resolution of any legal or insurance issues.
And of course, keep those photos off of social media. They’re evidence of a legal matter, not a four-star dinner.
Exchange Driver Information
Even if it’s a minor little bump and police aren’t being called, ask the other driver’s name, address, and insurance company. Taking a photo of the other driver’s license is a pretty common practice.
Your teen should offer their information first to show goodwill. Just be sure not to give out their social security number.
If the other driver has an insurance card on them, you can verify the accuracy of their insurance info.
Take Notes In Their Phone
Tell your teen that the details matter. They should note the year, make, model, and color of the other driver’s car. If possible, try to remember their driving speed, the exact time of the car accident, weather conditions, and road conditions.
If there are witnesses, get their contact information in case there’s a need to resolve a dispute. They should get the information and badge numbers of any responding officers to the scene and note the time of their arrival.
Call The Insurance Company
They should have the number of your insurance company on hand. Tell them to call before they leave the scene. The sooner they find out, the sooner they can begin to work.
If the car accident is severe, they can send out a photographer and assessor to analyze the accident before the scene is disrupted.
Save The Accident Report
Any responding officer should write up an accident report. Your teen is entitled to a copy of that report. It should note information about the officer.
If they end up in court, it will be a useful piece of evidence.
Get a Tow Truck
Police will help assess whether or not the vehicle is safe to drive. If it appears like it won’t be able to be driven, they need to call a tow truck. Have them send you the address of the shop where they’ll be towed.
If possible, have it towed to your local, trusted mechanic. They’ll appreciate that you called them and ensure you get the best service to get your teen back on the road.
What Teens Need To Do Once After They Leave The Scene
Thankfully, your teen is now safe and sound back home or in good recovery care. Unfortunately, the process is only about halfway finished. Now there are a number of steps to go through with potential attorneys and your insurance company.
This can be an overwhelming process for someone young to go through for the first time. Be patient and explain everything to your teen in great detail.
Explain The Role Of The Insurance Company
Your teen will likely not know much about how the insurance company handles claims. Explain to them how the company will deal with the other driver and their insurance company.
The settlement process can take awhile, so remind them to be patient.
Remind them not to take any action without telling you first.
Have Them Keep You In The Loop
If your teen gets phone calls from the insurance company, have them put on speakerphone with you nearby. Help them to provide accurate information, as they might not understand some terms and questions.
Don’t let your teen sign any paperwork from anyone without you involved. If someone hands them a pen, tell them to call you.
The other driver’s attorney or insurance company may try to get them to sign something admitting fault incorrectly. Tell them the insurance company should handle matters like this.
Talk About Getting An Attorney
You might be in a position where the insurance company isn’t budging on covering repairs or hospital bills they’re responsible for.
It can be a daunting step to make your first phone call to an attorney. Tell your teen that you’re happy to walk them through the process and sit with them during their first call.
Many attorneys won’t charge anything unless you get a settlement as well. Do your research before you decide on an accident attorney.
Check Up On Them
Ask your teen regularly how they’re feeling. Let them know to come to you if they’re having any issues following the car accident.
Accidents can cause severe trauma or small changes in attitude or behavior. Pay attention and talk to your teen if you see anything to cause concern.
File Your Insurance Claim
Sit down with your teen so that you file an insurance claim. Most insurance companies take claims online, so you can work at your own convenience.
This is where their notes and the detailed report they took on the scene will come in handy.
How To Help Teens To Prevent Accidents
Preventative measures will help your teens avoid the most common causes of a car accident. Starting young drivers with a good set of habits will build a lifelong record of good driving.
This will not only ensure they and their future families will stay safe. It also means that they won’t be paying insane insurance premiums as they get older.
Take a deep breath and hand your keys over to your teenage driver next time you need to run to the store. The more hours your teen gets behind the wheel, the more prepared they’ll be in all sorts of driving conditions.
Be patient and be supportive. A few hours a week of driving will help prepare your teen for a lifetime of safe driving habits so you need to make sure they’re able to listen to you. Getting angry or frustrated can have the opposite effect you’re going for with your teen.
The added bonus of getting them to drive will lead them to forget they’ve just agreed to help you with the groceries.
Help Them To Accept Feedback
Teaching is built upon a shared trust between two people. Make sure that you’re speaking clearly and calmly when giving feedback. For every negative, make sure you point out at least two positives.
Try not to get upset even when your teen makes a dangerous choice. Tell them what they did wrong and what they should do next time to avoid making the wrong decision.
Follow The Laws
Now that you’ve got a teenage driver watching your every move, you need to be a model driver. Stay near the speed limit. Don’t touch your phone under any circumstances.
Narrate each step of your process. This will reinforce a routine that they can pick up when they drive. If you find yourself in a frustrating driving situation, talk through it and talk about why you should never drive to intimidate or instigate an issue with a bad driver.
Practice With Adults
Having your teen drive with other teenagers will lead to distracting behavior. Even teasing or gossiping can throw your teen off during the vital period when they’re learning to build good habits.
If someone is distracting to your driver, leave them at home when you practice.
Teach Smart Phone Habits
Distracted driving can be costly and even deadly.
Teens spend most of their days living their social lives on their phones. The urge to check a text or quickly read something at a stop light can be powerful for teens. Build strong habits for turning notifications off while driving.
If you have a newer car, see if you can sync text-reading features to your teen’s phone if this will help them put their phone down.
There are apps now that will shut the phone down when a driver exceeds a certain speed limit, making the phone inaccessible during driving. These can be great training tools for teens.
Some apps even alert parents when teens are driving distracted.
A Car Accident Can Happen To The Most Careful Teens
Sending your teen out of the house prepared for accidents can save their lives and the lives of their friends. It can also ensure parents of their teen friends that they’ve got backup in case of an emergency.
Imagine your teen is a passenger in a car accident with a less prepared friend driving. The other driver comes to the driver side window and tries to convince the friend that they don’t need to exchange insurance information.
Suddenly, your teen is there to get in the way of the other driver’s plan to not have to cover damages to the teen friend’s car.
Expect a phone call that evening from thankful parents. Your well-prepared teen can be a model driver for their friends and other teens on the road.
Even if your teen is just a passenger in a car accident caused by another driver, they may be entitled to help if they suffer any stress or pain following the crash.
If you or your teenager has been injured in an accident, Stephen Babcock is standing by to help you.
Your case — and your future will be our top priority. When we meet with you, we will review your case with you for free and after you hire us you will have Stephen’s 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee.
If you have any questions about this article or want to contact us, call Stephen at (225) 500-5000 or contact us here.
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