Every parent’s worst nightmare is to get the phone call that their child has been in a car accident. And then it’s a mixture of relief that their child is alive and frustration that the young one may have been partially to blame. It’s unfortunately a sad reality that many parents have to deal with. But apart from taking away their keys forever and calling an attorney, what should you do if your teenager gets into a car accident?About 300,000 teenagers were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes in 2017 alone, representing about 8% of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries that year. Typically, the profile is older male teens who have recently gotten their license and have other teenage passengers in the car during the accident. But an accident can happen to anyone – including adults, of course.
Aside from sitting your teen down and talking about the dangers of distracted driving, speeding, and alcohol use (and the importance of seat belts), what else can you do if your teen does end up in an accident?If you do receive that dreaded call, there are some things you need to make sure to do. But there are also some things your child can do before you arrive:
- Get the car out of the way. Tell your teen to try to get their vehicle to the side of the road. Your child needs to be careful if they’re on a busy street, but if the car can move, it’s best to get it out of the way.
- Call the cops. In Louisiana, the law states that anyone in an automobile accident must report the accident to the authorities in case of injury or death, or property damage worth more than $500. If there’s any liquid leaking from either vehicle, as well, the authorities should be called.
- Take notes. Your child should jot down some notes about what’s happened – the exact time of the accident and any and all details they can remember. They should also get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses that saw the car accident happen.
Once you arrive on the scene, you can help your child take photos of the accident for future use in court. You need to be able to prove exactly what happened. Be sure to cooperate with any law enforcement on the scene, and do not let your child make any statements about guilt (positively or negatively) to the other driver.Take your child to the doctor, even if they say they feel fine. Sometimes injuries appear or start to hurt a day or two after the accident. The National Highway & Transportation Safety Administration reports that injuries in children can be worse than they are in adults. Be sure that your teen explains to the doctor what happened.
There are a few legal things about car accidents in Louisiana that you need to understand moving forward, as well.
- Statute of limitations: In Louisiana, victims of a car accident only have one year after their accident to file a personal injury claim.
- The “pure comparative negligence” system: The Louisiana system determines fault and liability for a car accident by assessing a percentage for how much each driver is responsible or at fault for the accident. If someone is even partly at fault for causing or contributing to the accident, the amount of compensation they can receive will be reduced by their percentage of determined fault.
- UM and UIM coverage: All Louisiana drivers are required to have uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage in their insurance policies.
- Direct action state: Unlike in many states, in Louisiana, injured parties can actually sue the other party’s insurance company directly. This is helpful for cases when the other driver (who was at fault) is uninsured, bankrupt, or has died.
Hiring a personal injury attorney immediately after the accident can help you and your teen through these complicated legal elements and figure out your next best steps.We hope this is never a situation you have to deal with. But if you or someone you know has a teen who gets into a car accident, it is vital that you contact a personal injury attorney right away. Give us a call at Wright Gray at 888-912-4944 so we can help you through this difficult time.