Are parents liable for their children’s car accidents?
That ultimately depends on your state, insurer, and the circumstances of the accident. Before your teen gets behind the wheel, make sure they're licensed, insured, and following the rules of the road.
How can you help if your teen has a car accident?
Start by preparing your teen before their first car accident even happens:
- Teach them what to do, step-by-step. You can even write the steps on a notepad for them to keep in the glove compartment. Having a car accident checklist can help them take the right steps when they're feeling shaken up on the scene.
- Always keep a copy of the car registration and insurance information in the car. Everything will be right there if they need to provide documentation for a police report or exchange insurance details with another driver.
Even with preparation, car accidents happen. If you ever get that call from your teen saying they've been in an accident, take these steps:
Provide emotional support. Your teen probably already feels bad about getting into their first accident. Reassuring them can help them handle the situation appropriately and not be afraid to ask for help in the future. If you're available, meet your teen at the scene to help them through the process.
Make sure there's a police report. Your teen should know to inform the police of all accidents involving someone else or their property. A police report can be helpful with insurance claims processes.
Contact their insurer. Have your teen call their insurance company, from the scene if it's safe, so they can learn the process of kicking off an auto insurance claim. They'll also need to exchange insurance information with the other party so the insurance companies can work together.
Get the car to an approved repair shop. If the car is damaged, your insurer can recommend a body shop nearby, and they'll work with the professionals there to get an estimate. If it isn't drivable, have the car towed to the shop.
Tips for a teenager's first accident
A teen's first car accident can be scary, so knowing the steps you should take can help you remain calm in the moment. Never leave the scene of an accident where damage or injury has occurred, even if it's minor. Leaving the scene may be viewed as a hit-and-run, which has severe consequences. Call the police and retrieve your license, registration, and insurance information for when they arrive.
If another driver was involved, check that they're okay and exchange insurance information, but leave it at that until the police arrive. The other driver may try to make it sound like you admitted fault by discussing the accident. And if they ask you to sign anything, don't. It's best to wait and speak to the police.