Few feelings are worse than what you experience when you receive a phone call that notifies you that your teen driver has been hurt in a vehicle collision. Hard as it may be, it’s your duty as a parent to help your child navigate this situation.
Do you know what to do?
Teen Drivers and Accidents: The Facts and Figures
According to research gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2,433 teens between the ages of 16 and 19 were killed in the United States in 2016 as the result of a car crash. Another 292,742 were treated in emergency departments for injuries they suffered in collisions and crashes.
In 2016, the CDC reports that people between the ages of 15 and 19 represented just 6.5 percent of the entire U.S. population. Despite this, they accounted for $13.6 billion – or 8.4 percent – of the total costs due to motor vehicle injuries.
Teen drivers are more likely to be involved in car mishaps than any other demographic in the population. This is probably attributable mostly to their inexperience, but it also has to do with common misbehavior such as distracted driving.
No matter how much time and effort you devote to helping your teenager become a safer driver, not all crashes can be avoided.
What to Do if Your Teen is Injured in a Wreck
The injuries sustained in a vehicle collision can range from minor, such as scrapes and bruises, to serious … including brain injuries and traffic fatalities. As soon as you learn about it, you should treat every incident as if it’s serious.
This will ensure nothing gets overlooked or assumed. Here are some additional pointers.
1. Remain Calm
The first order of business is to remain calm. If you act upset, your teen will be even more scared. If you scream and toss accusations, your son or daughter will get defensive.
If you look stressed, your child will internalize those sensations. The key is to remain calm in spite of the negative circumstances.
It’s not your job to provide medical care, legal advice, or any other sort of technical assistance. Your only job is to be there for your teen and to offer up your love and support.
2. Encourage Medical Attention
One would hope your child has already received medical attention. But in the scenario when your youthful driver calls you before dialing 911, you should hang up immediately and call EMS and police to the scene. At that point, nothing else matters.
If there’s any suspicion of serious injuries or the possibility of internal damage, your child should be taken to the hospital for further evaluation. It’s better to play safe with everything than end up regretting your decisions at a later date.
3. Record Evidence
If your child is in the right frame of mind, have him or her record evidence and details of the accident as soon as possible. It’s amazing how quickly memories can disappear or become unclear.
In terms of recording evidence, your teen’s smartphone is his or her best ally. Pictures and video can be taken. Your teen can also use a note-taking application to record thoughts. (Depending on the situation, it may be easiest to record an audio dictation.)
4. Hire a Lawyer
“Insurance company adjusters and lawyers won’t help you. That’s not their job,” Serious Injury Law Group explains. “Their job is to deny your claim or pay you as little as possible. So, they will take advantage of your mistakes.”
It’s always smart to hire a lawyer after a car crash in which there are injuries. Most car-accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only get paid if you land a settlement. This makes hiring a lawyer a low-risk, high-reward proposition.
5. Offer Emotional Support
Finally, be prepared to lend your child emotional support during the recovery process. Getting behind the wheel of a car can be difficult even after all the physical injuries have healed.
Take things slow and don’t force the issue. If necessary, your child may need to see a therapist to address any psychological trauma that may have occurred.
Take Charge of the Situation
Since you’re the parent in this situation, it’s up to you to make sure everything happens as it should. By providing the necessary guidance, you can free your teenager to focus on recovery – both physical and mental.
This approach will encourage proper healing and reduce the long-term negative impact of the car crash.