What to Do if Your Child Is Involved in a Major Collision
It’s the middle of the night when you suddenly get woken up by a phone call: it’s your child, and they have just been in a car accident.
While most parents hope that they never receive this call, it’s undeniable that driving comes with its risks. Unfortunately, most teenagers are not equipped to handle the aftermath of a car accident.
It’s important that you, as the parent, can support them and guide them through what may be a traumatic experience. Here are the most important steps you and your child should take following a car accident.
Make sure your child does not drive away from the scene of the accident. They are likely overwhelmed, shocked, scared, and/or angry after the crash.
Try your best to help them calm down, so they are better prepared to handle the stress of the situation. For example, ask them to take deep breaths or count to ten.
Keep Themselves and Others Safe
Ask your child if they can drive the vehicle. If there are no injuries and the car is still driveable, make sure they move the car out of traffic to avoid other damages and possible injuries.
However, if they cannot get out of the vehicle, or if it’s not safe to do so, ask them to keep their seatbelt fastened, turn on their hazard lights, and call 911 for help.
Check For Injuries and Call The Authorities
Your child should check on everyone involved in the accident. Note that not all injuries are visible. If your child or anyone involved starts feeling unwell, call 911. Your child should be ready to give the dispatcher key information, including:
- Their name and phone number
- Details about the emergency. For example, if there is a fire or a medical emergency.
- The location of the emergency. The dispatcher needs to know exactly where your child is. Ask your child to give as much information as possible, including the road name or number, travel direction, and the nearest exit number.
On the other hand, if there are no injuries and both vehicles can be driven away safely, police officers may not need to be sent to the scene. In this case, call the Ottawa Police Reporting Unit at 613-236-1222, where the officer will ask you some questions to assess your situation, provide you with a report number, and refer you to a collision reporting centre.
Take Detailed Photos and Notes
An accurate record can help the court and insurance agencies decide which party is responsible. Your child must take detailed written notes and photos of the accident scene, which may include:
- Description of the vehicles involved- for example, year, make, model, and colour
- Direction of travel
- The exact location of the crash
- Date and time of the crash
- Weather and road conditions
- Photos of all vehicles involved in the crash
- Pictures of all four sides of your child’s vehicle post-collision
- Close-ups of any damage on the cars and public property
- Licence plate numbers of all involved vehicles
- Contact information of any witnesses
Exchange Drivers Information
If the police responded to the accident, the investigating officer at the scene will obtain all relevant information and provide your child with a police report number. Your child can use this number to get an accident report later and file an insurance claim.
If the police did not respond to the accident, ensure your child exchanges information with the other driver, such as:
- Telephone number
- Licence number and class
- Name of the insurance company
- Insurance policy number
Encourage them to ask for the other driver’s insurance card and driver’s licence to ensure the information is accurate. They should also take a photo of these identification cards for their records. If the other driver is not the vehicle’s owner, remind your child to get the owner’s information.
Report the Accident
In Ontario, the Highway Traffic Act requires all road accidents with injuries and damages over $2,000 to be reported to the police. Ensure your child reports the accident to the Collision Reporting Centre with the report number they obtained earlier from the Police Reporting Unit. They can do so either via email or visit the centre in person.
File a Claim
We encourage you to notify your insurance agent about the accident as soon as possible. While the claims process is relatively easy, we suggest that you walk your teen through the process and be as supportive as possible.
To help your child feel less confused or overwhelmed by the process, you can explain how the insurance company will handle the claim to your child and ask them to keep you in the loop.
You should also remind them only to answer calls from the insurance company when you’re nearby and avoid taking any action or signing any paperwork without your guidance.
It’s also a good idea to go over your child’s car insurance policy again to know the specific details of your coverage, your rights, and your responsibilities.
In Ontario, the government requires all drivers to keep four types of car insurance coverage: third-party liability coverage, statutory accident benefits coverage, direct compensation- property damage coverage, and uninsured automobile coverage.
However, you may have opted for additional coverages to protect yourself and your family. Understanding the breadth of your coverage will make the claim process easier for both you and your child.
As much as you try to keep your child safe on the road, sometimes, accidents happen. We at Oegema Nicholson are here to help you build a car insurance policy for your specific needs.
Learn more about the comprehensive insurance coverage and request a quote today at 613-704-7766 or contact us here.