The chances are that you’ll be in a car accident during your teenage driving years. It’s unfortunate but true.
The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety says 25 percent of 16-year-old drivers either get into a car crash or receive a ticket in their first year of driving. The department’s 2013 report about car accidents in Oklahoma cities says 10,273 drivers ages 16 to 19 were involved in crashes, with nearly 200 drivers younger than 16 also involved.
It’s how you deal with an accident that counts.
If you have been in a collision in Oklahoma, you should:
- Never leave the scene of an accident. If you do, you could face criminal charges as a hit-and-run driver.
- Calm yourself. Take a moment to settle down. A car crash is stressful, but you need to proceed in an adult, business-like manner.
- Determine whether anyone has been hurt and if so summon an ambulance. Don’t try to move an injured person unless it’s a matter of life-or-death – the car is on fire, for example. Moving someone who is injured could make their injuries worse.
- Call or have someone call 911 as soon as possible. Stay on the line until the emergency operator has finished asking you questions and hangs up. Be ready to provide information such as the location of the accident, type of collision, how many people are involved, how many are hurt, and what type of injuries have occurred.
- If you have been injured and need medical care, cooperate with EMTs or other emergency responders. Get into an ambulance if instructed to.
- If there has been no injury or death, and you are able to, you should move your vehicle or any spilled cargo from the roadway so that traffic isn’t blocked.
- Exchange the following information with the drivers of all other vehicles involved:
- Name and address of the driver and the car owner, if different
- Driver license number
- Vehicle registration number
- Insurance information, including company name, agent, policy number and effective dates.
- If the collision involves a parked car or other property and you can’t locate the owner, leave your name and address on the damaged property where the owner will find it.
- Notify your parents. Be calm and, if you are not hurt, assure them of this fact. If you have been injured, explain your injuries as best as you can and as matter-of-factly as you can. If an ambulance is transporting you, tell your parents where you are headed.
- Cooperate with police. Answer questions honestly, but do not make accusations against the other driver. Don’t blame yourself. The investigating officer will complete a report and place it on file. Ask how you can obtain a copy, and then do so as soon as you are able to.
- If the car’s insurance is in your name, contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident. Provide the information necessary to initiate a claim. Answer questions honestly but without blaming yourself or anyone else for the accident. Do not downplay any injuries you have or damage to your car.
- If you are able at the accident scene, take photos to document the crash. Get pics of the damage to each car, their positions relative to the collision, any scattered debris or wreckage and skid marks. Photograph anything at the scene that contributed to the crash, such as damaged roadway or overgrown vegetation that blocked the view. Get photos of your injuries.
- See a doctor as soon as you can if you do not need emergency care. Some injuries do not have symptoms immediately but can cause significant problems later. A medical exam can find problems you don’t recognize. An exam also documents your injuries, which you’ll need if you file for insurance.
- Maintain copies of every document connected to your accident, including the police report, insurance forms, receipts for all related expenses, notices to school or work about absences, and any medical records or reports.
- Contact or have your parents contact a car accident attorney. Car accident lawyers work with accident victims to ensure they obtain the full insurance settlements they deserve. A lawyer can provide a free initial legal consultation, which will include a review of any insurance settlement offer you or your parents have already received. If you file a claim and the insurance company declines to pay, an attorney will fight for you.
- Be careful about social media posting. In case you must pursue a legal claim over your car accident, you need to not discuss your accident with others. You particularly want to avoid saying or showing anything on social media that indicates you were at fault or not hurt in the accident.
- If there has been a personal injury or death in an accident or if the damage to any vehicle or property is valued at more than $300, and all the parties involved have not reached a settlement within six months, you must file an Oklahoma Motor Vehicle Collision Report. The form is available from the investigating officer, or any highway patrol, local police or sheriff’s office. This state report is in addition to any reports required by a city where the accident occurred. Ask police about any local requirements. A car accident attorney can take care of this for you if you have an attorney.
Oklahoma Department of Public Safety