Oh boy… your teenagers have reached the legal driving age and naturally, the first thing they want to do is get behind the wheel. After several months of drilling safety rules into their heads, you finally decide to let them venture off on their own. Maybe you let them drive to school or to a friend’s house so that they get familiar with being behind the wheel. Then you get the call… they’ve been in an accident.
There is probably nothing more gut wrenching to a parent then hearing from their teenager that they’ve been involved in a car accident. Even if they’re telling you they’re okay, you’re probably going to be going crazy until you can reach them in person. Though there are a lot of things going through your mind, it will be important for you to remain calm and help your teen get through this.
Instruct Your Teen to Remain Calm – Your teen is likely going to be a bit frantic seeing as how it is their first accident. The best thing you can tell them is to remain calm.
Find A Way To Reach Them – Because an accident can be scary for an adult, much less a teenager, you want to do what you can to reach them so that they have support when the police arrive.
Contact the Authorities – In the meantime, you need to contact the police to report the accident. Ask your teen for the information (i.e. where they are) and contact the police right away.
Collect Information – Once the police have been called, instruct your teen to collect pertinent information from the other drivers involved. Inform them not to admit fault but to simply get the name, address, phone number, and insurance information from all involved.
Seek Medical Attention – whether your teen has obvious injuries or not, it is imperative that they seek medical attention. This will start the paper trail for your insurance claim. It may also be necessary if you intend to file suit against the guilty party.
Contact an Attorney – If you believe your teen is at fault or has sustained injuries during the accident, you will need to contact an attorney right away. They will advise you of your legal rights and help you file the insurance claim while providing necessary legal protection. You can reach out to specialty legal firms, such as the Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC, to get the process started.
File the Insurance Claim – Once you’ve secured an attorney you want to then file your insurance claim. Since your insurance company will ask for a recorded statement from you and your teen, it is important that your attorney is present so that they don’t say anything that might put full responsibility on your teen.
The Waiting Game
Once you’ve filed your insurance claim the rest is simply a waiting game. You’ll need to allow the insurance companies time to investigate the accident and determine who’s at fault. This could take a considerable amount of time depending on how many people were involved, how much information you were able to obtain, and the severity of the accident. With any luck your insurance provider should call you back and tell you how to have your vehicle repaired. If it is believed that your teen was at fault, you will likely have to pay a deductible along with any other expenses that are not covered by insurance. However, if it was not your teen’s fault, the “at fault” driver’s insurance provider should cover the costs.
If your teen was proven to be not at fault the other insurance company may reach out for a settlement. No matter how sweet the offer might sound, be sure that you talk it over with your attorney to ensure that you’re being adequately compensated. Not only should the guilty party pay for the damage to your vehicle, but they should also pay for any medical bills and other financial losses that may be directly related to the accident. If you cannot reach a reasonable agreement the case will be sent to court for further deliberation.
Nothing is as scary as your teen’s first accident, but you can never be too prepared. To try and prevent an accident, be sure that you talk with your teen about traffic laws and safety. You should also educate them on what to do in the event of an accident. Each of the above steps will help you and your teen in recovering any financial loss from the accident and getting life back to normal.