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What to Do when Your Teenager has a Car Accident (Accident Checklist)

Anxious about what do you do when a teenager gets into a car accident? Give them this car accident checklist.

Got a new teen driver, or someone in your home who will become a driver for the first time in the not-too-distant future?

teen girl on phone after first car accident, text overlay "free teen car accident checklist print to keep in their glove compartment"

First off – congratulations. You’ve raised a tiny human to come this far, and that’s something to celebrate!

Secondly…are you a little nervous?

Anxiety over your child driving is totally normal.

I mean, if we’re going to be honest, thinking about my own child getting behind a wheel for the first and the 127th time kind of terrifies me.

Will he know how some people do a “California” stop at stop signs? Will he know what to do when a red light has stopped working and it’s just blinking? Will he put his phone down and not touch it for the duration of his ride?

Will he know what is the first thing you do when you get in a car accident?

*sigh*. I honestly don’t know.

What I do know is that I can help him – and your teen – prep for some of those certainties (having his first car accident) and uncertainties (how he will react).

That’s why I’m dedicating this article for new drivers to helping you teach your teenager what to do when they get into their first accident.

Psst: this article and the free printable below make an excellent behind-the-wheel lesson plan!

What Do You Do When a Teenager Gets into a Car Accident?

Letting your child drive alone is a major decision each of us has to make.

And once we make it?

Well, we need to equip our teens with what they need in case they get into a car accident while we’re not there.

What is the first thing you do when you get in a car accident?

Let’s look at the stages right after getting into a car crash or fender bender.

Stage #1: Take Care of Immediate Needs After Getting into a Car Accident

It’s important that your teenager understands the priority of events that needs to happen after an accident.

Because both their safety, and the safety of all other drivers involved are of primary importance.

When you get into a car accident with another driver (or several), your two priorities are:

  • Ensure you and the other drivers and passengers are out of further harm’s way
  • Assess any medical attention needs, and fulfill them

This means immediately seeing if you, your passengers, or any of the other drivers involved need medical attention – in which case you will call an ambulance – and also removing the vehicles to a safe area so that you guys or other drivers driving past are not going to get injured.

Don’t forget to turn on your hazard lights, and or use any reflector cones around the back and sides of the vehicle to secure you and your car’s safety.

Everything else comes after these two critical steps.

Psst: and in the (horrible) event that your teen is incapacitated? They should have something in their wallet to show first responders to the scene important information, such as any medications they’re on, any allergies they have (I’m allergic to penicillin, and you bet I need someone to know this even when I can’t say it), etc.

Once the physical safety of everyone involved is handled, then it’s time to move onto Stage #2 – involving the police, parents, and the insurance company.

Stage #2: Notify the Appropriate People

After an accident, your teenager needs to know to contact these three people:

  • The Police: to file an official report, direct traffic, assist in vehicle removal, and protect all parties
  • Their Parents: to notify them of their physical state, the car, and anything else
  • Their Insurance Company: to notify them of a pending claim that will come in, either from them, or from another party

Stage #3: Gather All Information You’ll Need in the Future

You don’t want to walk away from a car accident without an exchange of information between you and the other driver.

This is critical for your teen to understand, and can be difficult to remember if you’re not a seasoned driver.

Otherwise, things like being unable to file an insurance claim on the vehicle, or not having a proper report in the event that the case gets taken to court, or being denied medical insurance coverage might happen.

All headaches you need to avoid!

There will be an exchange of information between all parties, between you and insurance companies, and possibly between you and the police.

Stage #4: Deal with the Aftermath from Home

Once home, your teen might need to contact the police officer or police station to ask for a copy of their report. If they haven't contacted the car insurance company yet, then they'll want to do that to potentially start any claims process, and to give them the heads up that another driver may be calling.

If your teenager needs to document injuries or has possible long-term effects, then they'll want to schedule a doctor appointment.

Finally, they'll want to get multiple quotes on any car repairs they need to make.

Get Your Teen Car Accident Checklist for their Glove Compartment

Instead of allowing myself to go down the abyss of parental anxiety – and trust me, I can go down that path like the best of ‘em – I’ve created this printable car accident checklist your teen can keep in their glove compartment.

Sure beats them standing on the side of a road, trying to google what to do after a car accident while dealing with other things like:

  • The other driver
  • Being scared about what their parents are going to say
  • Getting out of traffic’s way
  • Emotional trauma they might be feeling
  • Etc.

Look – I hope your teenager never gets into an accident. I hope mine never will, either.

But we need to be prepared and prepare them for if and when they do. And one way to do that is to send them with a step-by-step checklist of what to do that they can quickly go through when they’re probably in a bit of shock.

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Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, a 2017 Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Money Prodigy. Amanda's kid money work has been featured on Experian, GoBankingRates, PT Money, CA.gov, Rockstar Finance, the Houston Chronicle, and Colonial Life. Read more here.