Teen drivers unfortunately have more car accidents than adults, on average.
In 2018, 84 young Louisiana drivers died in wrecks, and many more were injured.
However, even if your teen driver is lucky enough to escape their collision unharmed, dealing with the fallout can be confusing and even intimidating.
It helps to know what to expect in the aftermath of a teenager’s accident. It also helps to have a talented team of attorneys who specialize in representing teen drivers on your side. If your teen has been in an accident, contact Pierce & Shows.
The Immediate Aftermath
Things will go much easier for your teen if they know what to do, and what to expect after a crash.
While their driver’s education course should cover the basics, parents should also talk with their teens about how to behave at the scene, including the following steps:
- Your teen should remain calm and contact the police if there are any possible injuries or property damage.
- They should always stay on scene and find their important documents while waiting for help to arrive.
- They will need to show their drivers license or permit, proof of insurance and car registration to the other driver(s), and to the police.
- They should attempt to document the accident with notes, photos, and contact information of any witnesses.
- They should NOT discuss whether they are at fault.
Remember, it is best to contact an attorney who specializes in representing teen drivers early on in the process — especially if there is a possibility that your teen caused the accident.
Reporting the wreck
In cases of fender-benders, police and medics might not get involved, but your teen will still have to report their wreck.
Under Louisiana law, drivers must forward a written report of any accident that causes injury, death or property damage over $100 to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections within 24 hours. Failure to do so can result in fines or even jail time.
Additionally, Louisiana drivers must file a report with local police about any accident that causes injury, death, or property damage over $500. It is also important to report the accident to the driver’s insurance company.
Is my teen at fault?
If the accident resulted in injuries, death or significant property damage, police will investigate and decide who is responsible.
Insurance claims investigators for all involved drivers will also try to determine what each involved party’s insurance company should cover.
Louisiana uses a fault system to evaluate accidents. This means the insurance company for the party or parties found to be at fault will pay most of the costs associated with the accident. The law includes a “comparative fault” factor, which means each driver can be assigned a certain percentage of the fault.
If your teen is partly or totally responsible, they — or you, the parents — will likely face some pretty steep costs, but the exact amount depends on a number of factors, including:
- The amount of insurance coverage they have
- The percentage of fault they bear
- The severity of the accident
In nearly all cases, there will be an insurance deductible and increased premiums that must be paid following an accident.
Will there be legal consequences?
Some accidents, such as those caused by bad weather or a deer dashing onto the highway, are just plain bad luck.
Unfortunately, young drivers do engage in reckless, negligent and even criminal driving behavior at higher rates than adult drivers. If your teen appears to be breaking any of Louisiana’s laws at the time of the crash, they could receive a moving violation or even be arrested.
It’s important to remember that the alcohol laws are different for drivers who are under 21 — if they are found to have almost any level of alcohol in their blood, they can be charged for driving under the influence and face a license suspension or revocation.
If your teen breaks a traffic rule or a law, they may be able to negotiate a fee reduction or dismissal in court, or keep the ticket off of their driving record by participating in a defensive driving course. Some insurance companies also offer discounts for drivers who take these courses after an accident.
In those worst-case scenarios, it’s especially important to hire a skilled defense attorney right away.
Contact Pierce & Shows for help with your teen’s accident
Don’t try to fight a lawsuit on your own — you need the expertise of attorneys who understand Louisiana’s driving laws and the unique needs of teen drivers. For more information, contact Pierce & Shows today.