As a parent, it is a nauseating feeling to have a teenage driver. You have taught them how to parallel park, stop correctly at stop signs, instilled fear about using their phone while driving (don’t do it!) but did you teach them what to do after an accident? Your own automobile insurance company may have guidance on their website, and we encourage you to look there. Here is a list of our ideas to discuss:
- Safety is paramount.
- If your teenager doesn’t believe that they are injured, and the accident appears minor without concern for who is at fault, consider signaling to the other driver that both of you can move your vehicles to a nearby, safe place. (If there is concern for who was at fault, we suggest that the vehicles not be moved. If you are instructed to move them by the police upon calling 911, without compromising safety, take quick photos of the vehicles and surrounding area that may be important for determining fault prior to moving the vehicles.)
- If you stay where the accident occurred, shift into park, turn off the vehicle, turn on the hazard lights, and call 911.
- Discuss scenarios where staying in the vehicle while waiting for the police may not be safe and exiting to a nearby sidewalk may be safer. Run through scenarios that you would advise them to stay in the vehicle.
- Your teenager does not need to get out of the car prior to the police arriving if their safety would be compromised.
- Consider placing emergency water in the car for accidents that occur hot days (our firm is located in the Henderson / Las Vegas, Nevada, area and 117-degree summer heat is horrid.)
- You can use cones, warning triangles, or flares for added safety, if you have them and you can safely put them up.
- Get Help
- Check for injuries; call an ambulance when in doubt.
- Call the police, even if the accident is minor. A police report can be invaluable to the claim process and help establish who’s at fault. (If the accident was on private property, they may not come. If the accident occurred on a commercial premise, such as a hotel or casino or mall, they may have their own security that is willing to help you. Calling the main premise switchboard and ask for security.)
- Collect Information
- Gather information from others involved in the accident. If possible, take photos of this information as well as writing it down.
- Driver and passenger names and contact information (phone number and address.)
- Vehicle descriptions (make, model, year).
- Driver’s license numbers (including the state who issued it, year of expiration, and any restrictions on their license.)
- Vehicle license plate numbers.
- Insurance company, phone number, and policy numbers. Show your teenage driver what your insurance card looks like and point out what a policy number is and where it can be found on yours.
- Eyewitness names and contact information (phone number and address.) This is critical. Explain to your teenager that sometimes the other driver’s story changes after they leave the scene of the accident, so documentation is critical.
- Accident scene location and/or cross streets.
- Police officer’s name and badge number.
- Take photos of all vehicles involved and the accident scene, if it is safe to do so.
- Do not sign any document unless it’s for the police or your insurance company.
- Be polite, but don’t tell anyone the accident was your fault, even if you think it was.
4.Roadside Assistance. Go over your policy with your teenager and explain what roadside assistance is and what that includes under your policy. (Sometimes roadside assistance covers locking your keys in the car and usually covers towing to the nearest facility if the car breaks down.) If your vehicle isn’t safely drivable after an accident, it should be towed.
5. File a claim with their insurance company if it was their fault, and notify your automobile insurance company as well. You do not need to call them from the scene of the accident, but call them promptly after the accident and injury evaluations are done. Note, you are not required to give a recorded statement to the other person’s insurance company. You can, but it could be used against you later. (It is not a recorded statement to simply call an insurance company, even if it says something to the effect that the call may be recorded for quality purposes. A recorded statement would begin and end with your confirmation by their adjuster that the interview was being recorded with your permission and all answers were given to the best of your knowledge.) You are required to cooperate with your own insurance company. If they ask for a recorded statement, ask if it is necessary or if you can give a phone interview that is not recorded. If they insist on a recorded statement, you may be in breach of your insurance contract if you do not agree. Only answer the questions that they ask you, though.
We are happy to answer your questions! Call us today!