It's the one phone call that every parent dreads: "Hey, I got into an accident." As parents, we're proud to see our teen drivers gain independence, but we worry every single time they step foot in the car.
If you get that dreaded call, here's what to do:
Stay Calm. Reassure Your Teen That it Will be Okay
Panic will probably be your first reaction. Try to avoid losing it. Stay calm, and reassure your teen that everything will be okay.
It's just a car. The most important thing is that your teen is okay.
Once you know that your teen is okay, your next reaction may be anger. Try to avoid losing it here, too. Anger will do nothing to help the situation.
Find out where your teen is, and head that way as soon as you can.
Explain What to Do after an Accident
Your teen should already know what to do after an accident, but shock and panic can easily make her forget the next steps.
Pull over to a safe spot
Call 911, especially if there are injuries
Make no statements to the other driver or admit fault
Cooperate with police when they arrive
Take photos of the accident scene (if possible) and damage (if any)
Write down the time, date and circumstances surrounding the accident
Many parents find that it's helpful to put an accident checklist in the glove box of the vehicle. This ensures that teens don't miss any steps and remain calm.
Make Sure Everyone Gets Medical Attention
If anyone is hurt in the accident, make sure that they get medical attention immediately. Even if your teen says she isn't hurt, you might consider having her see a doctor anyway. Injuries may take a few days to present.
Dealing with the Worst-Case Scenario
No parent wants to think about it, but it's important to also prepare for the worst-case scenario. If a death occurs because of the accident, it can be extremely traumatizing for all parties involved.
We won't get into what to do if your teen is killed in an accident, but you may want to know what to do if the other driver or a passenger is tragically killed in the incident.
First – and most importantly – you'll want to get a lawyer. You'll also want to find out all of the details surrounding the accident. If alcohol or drugs are involved, the situation can get very complicated.
According to Keller Law Offices, "Vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter most often occur when 1) drivers have prohibited substances like cocaine, methamphetamines or heroin in their blood or 2) drivers with over-the-limit levels of alcohol in their blood injure or kill people while driving."
In some states, negligent or careless driving can also support a vehicular manslaughter charge.
Naturally, this will be a difficult time for all parties involved. You might consider counseling for the family in addition to seeking legal counsel.
Hopefully, you and your family never have to face such a tragic situation, but if you do, you will be more prepared for the path ahead.