Many of us at All Injuries Law Firm are ourselves parents with young drivers, and fully understand how stressful it can be having teenagers get behind the wheel.
Should your child get into an auto accident it's going to be important for the adults in their lives to stay calm, and take things step by step.
1 – Ask if anyone has been injured, and call the police
If anyone has been injured call 911 immediately. If there does not appear to be any injuries, we still recommend you call the police. Calling the police after a crash will be important for legal protections and in obtaining an official accident report. Calling the police may also be required by your insurance company.
2 – Get your teen to a safer location
The roadway is NOT a safe place to wait. - Find out if the vehicle is still drivable or not:
If no one is injured and the vehicle is drivable, have them turn the hazard lights on and slowly relocate to a safer location out of traffic – such as a nearby parking lot or off the side of the road. Make sure they are double checking for traffic, after being in a crash adrenaline is flowing and everyone is nervous, so it can be easy to make a mistake and get into another crash.
If the vehicle is not drivable, they are NOT injured, and it's safe to exit the vehicle, have them turn on the hazard lights and exit the vehicle (checking for traffic first!) then relocate to a safer place near the crash scene.
If the vehicle is not drivable and they are injured, or if they cannot get out of the vehicle, have them turn on the hazard lights and keep their safety belt fastened while they wait for the police to arrive.
3 – Careful communication after the crash
Tell your teenager not to apologize, admit fault, or accuse the other drivers of fault. It will be important for safety for your teen to be non-confrontational however, it is very important for your young driver to not admit fault, or apologize for the accident.
If they have not been injured in the crash, they should check on the other passengers and drivers involved in the accident to see if anyone else has been injured and call 911. They should not attempt to physically aid injured drivers, as moving someone with a spine, neck, or internal injury can cause even more damage.
4 – Document the crash
It will be important to document the facts of the accident, and if your child has not been hurt they should begin with taking photos.
Have your teen take photos of the vehicles involved including the license plates, and damage to each vehicle.
They should also take photos of the scene of the crash including, infrastructure like road signs, signal poles, and anything that may have been a factor such as downed trees or flooded areas.
They should make sure to take a photo of the scene as a whole so the position of the vehicles is apparent.
5 - Exchanging insurance and contact information
In addition to photos, your teen will need to exchange insurance information and contact information with the other drivers involved.
They will need to speak with the other drivers – many teens will be shy when talking to strange adults, but they will need to collect the information. If they are not comfortable with this have them give you the phone and collect the following information:
- The address, phone number, and full name of the other drivers involved
- The insurance information of the other drivers
- Get the drivers license number from each of the other drivers
- Get the license plate number from the other vehicles
- Get the make and model of the other vehicles
- Record the police report number and the names and phone numbers of the police at the scene
- Get the location of the crash
- Note the weather conditions at the time of the crash
- Collect contact information from witnesses
Also advise your teen not to give out any other information other than what is required. For example you should never give your social security number or other personal info other than contact, insurance information and drivers license number.
6 – Contact your insurance company and get help
After the information has been exchanged, you will need to take steps to get back to normal, that starts with contacting your insurance company.
Contact the insurance company as soon as possible so they may provide aid such as towing, rental vehicles or other assistance, however be careful to not admit fault or get into specifics of the crash with the insurance agent. While your insurance company is there to help, they also have their own interests and may use information you say against you later on to reduce any insurance settlements.
If the insurance company does not have roadside assistance, and the vehicle is not drivable then call a tow truck. Once the tow truck arrives a decision will need to be made on where to tow the vehicle.
Both the police and the tow truck driver should have options – in general they will be:
- Tow the vehicle to a nearby auto collision repair shop (storage fees may apply)
- Tow the vehicle to a nearby salvage yard (storage fees may apply)
- Tow the vehicle to your home for now.
If your teen has been injured and transported to a hospital for care, the police will likely take the vehicle to a storage yard. Ultimately the at-fault driver will be responsible for storage fees, however effort must be made to have the vehicle removed in a timely fashion.
7 - Carefully working with insurance adjusters
After your teen is safely home, and the accident is correctly reported you will need to be vigilant to ensure that both the other driver's insurance company, and your own insurance company will not try to maneuver you, or your teen into a reduced settlement.
Make sure your teenager understands they should not take any further action to reconcile the accident other than providing your insurance company or attorney with any details they require. Your teenager should never communicate directly with your insurance company or sign anything – without your careful review and participation. Better yet, retain an attorney, and they will take over communicating with your insurance company.
Important - Make sure your teenager DOES NOT POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA about the crash in any way.
Check on their emotional health - A car crash can be a traumatic experience for adult drivers, and even more unsettling for teenagers. Even if your teen was not injured in the accident, they may have trouble getting back behind the wheel. It's not uncommon for young drivers to need further support before driving again after an accident.
8 – Contact an attorney
As soon as possible you will want to contact an experienced auto accident attorney. This is especially true if anyone was injured in the crash. Whether or not your teen was at-fault in the crash both your insurance company, and the other driver's insurance company, will work for their own interests and attempt to provide the smallest financial settlement they can get away with.
Retaining a top-rated attorney will ensure your interests are protected, and that you will get the maximum amount of compensation under the law. Additionally, your law firm will lift the burden of communicating with the insurance company from your shoulders, and make sure that medical bills are processed correctly.
Having an experienced, and effective law firm on your side after a crash will significantly reduce stress, helping your teen get back on the road.
If your teenager has been in an accident don't go it alone, contact All Injuries Law Firm, P.A. for a free consultation.