As a parent, it is terrifying to hear that your teen has been involved a car crash and there are injuries. Sadly, many parents may be forced to cope with this situation, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that teen drivers ages 16 through 19 are nearly three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident than drivers age 20 and older.
If your teen is involved in a car accident in Colorado, the dedicated injury attorneys at The Sawaya Law Firm want to help. When you schedule a free consultation with our skilled legal team, we will discuss all your options and explain the steps you should take after an auto accident.
5 Steps to Take After a Teen’s Car Accident
If you are with your teen at the time of the accident, or in contact shortly afterward, walk your teen through the steps he or she should take, including:
1. Prioritize medical care. Getting proper medical care is a top priority. In fact, even if your teen appears to be OK, a trip to the doctor’s office is a good idea. This is especially true because some injuries ─ such as a concussion (traumatic brain injury), whiplash, and internal bleeding ─ may not be immediately evident. A trip to the doctor’s office or hospital allows for immediate and effective medical care to reduce the risk of further damage.
2. Call law enforcement. Police officers will take a detailed report at the scene, which will be helpful evidence when you are ready to file a claim.
3. Take photos and notes. If your teen is able, he or she should take photos of the vehicles, the damage, any road hazards and skid marks, as well as injuries. It is also important to note the names and contact information of any witnesses to the crash, as well as the name and contact information for the other driver.
4. Report the crash to your insurance company. It is important that you report your teen’s car accident to your insurance company as soon as possible so that the claim process – which will include an investigation conducted by your insurance company – can begin. If the accident is not reported within a timely manner, your insurance company may deny the claim. You only need to report the basic information to the insurer ─ where and when it happened, and who was involved. Never admit fault.
5. Contact an attorney immediately. An attorney can help protect your teen’s rights and launch an independent investigation into the cause of the crash.
Will I Be Liable for My Teen’s Crash?
Many parents wonder whether they will be held liable for their teen’s crash if their teen was at fault. In Colorado, the parent/guardian of any minor driver must sign an Affidavit of Liability and Guardianship, which means that if the minor is found to be at fault through an act of negligence or willful misconduct, the parent/guardian of that child will be held liable.
Because Colorado is a fault insurance state, people who are injured or suffer damages in a crash have the right to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. As the parent of a (potentially) at-fault teen driver, this means that you may be named in the suit.
In addition to being held liable based on the fact that you signed your teen’s Affidavit of Liability and Guardianship, you may also be held liable under the theory of negligent entrustment. This could be the case if you knew that your teen had a habit of speeding, driving while intoxicated, using a cellphone when behind the wheel, or otherwise driving aggressively, and you allowed him or her to drive regardless.
Will My Teen’s Car Insurance Go Up After an Accident?
The premium for your teen car insurance will likely rise as a result of the crash if your teen is found to be at fault. In some cases, your insurance premiums may increase even if your teen was not at fault for the accident.
What Should I Do if My Teen Wasn’t at Fault?
If your teen was not at fault for the crash, you and your family have three options for recovering compensation for any injuries that your teen may have suffered:
- File a claim against the other driver’s insurance company.
- File a claim with your own insurance company (assuming you hold certain policies, like personal injury protection, or PIP coverage).
- File a lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver.[/su_note]
If you file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company or file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver, you (and your teen) will need to prove the other driver was at fault. If you are successful in proving fault, your teen will be able to recover compensation for the damages suffered. This might include costs of medical expenses, pain and suffering, disability, and more.
Having a skilled Colorado car accident attorney on your side can make a huge difference as you navigate the complicated claims process.
Getting Help After a Car Accident
At The Sawaya Law Firm, we hope that your teen is never in a crash. However, we want you to know that our experienced Colorado car accident attorneys are here to help you if that day ever comes.
If you have questions about what to do after a crash, we are only a phone call away. You can also contact us online. We will sit down with you to review your case for free and outline all of your legal options.