As the parent of a teenager, you likely hold your breath every time they drive somewhere, hoping for the best but fearing the worst. Your concerns have basis, since teenage drivers are involved in, injured in and killed in more crashes than motorists of any other age group. If your teenager calls to inform you that they were in an auto accident, your gut reaction may be to panic. Yet, it is important to stay calm and know how you can help them in its aftermath.
Make sure they know what to do
When your teenager calls you after an accident, you must check – before doing anything else – that they are alright and out of the way of traffic. If they have not moved to the side of the road, you must make sure they do so if they can. If they sustained injuries, yet have not called 911, you must make sure they do so right away.
You will also need to guide your teenager through their responsibilities at the accident scene. As you talk with them, have them take notes about and photos of the scene and the damage. Make sure, too, that they exchange names, contact information and insurance information with the other drivers involved. And remind them that, no matter their role in the accident, they must not admit fault. Even an apology, which may seem courteous and benign, could come across as an admission of fault in a police report.
Contact your insurance company
After your teenager informs you of their accident, you will want to contact your insurance company about it as soon as possible. If your insurance company wants to talk with your teenager about their role, you may want to join them on the phone. They may not like you hovering over their shoulder. But by being present, you can make sure they provide your insurance company with accurate information about the accident.
You may want to save your teenager from the headache of filing their own insurance claim. Yet, it is important that you two work through the process together. By doing so, you will help them develop the capability to make one on their own in the event of another accident.
Keep your cool
Staying calm after your teenager gets in an auto accident may seem like a tall order. While you may be angry that they wrecked your vehicle, you will want to emphasize to them that their safety is your top priority. Your vehicle is replaceable. Your teenager, however, is not. By keeping a cool head after their accident, you can help them reduce the guilt they feel about it and see it as a learning opportunity.