This is an excerpt from one of the recent episodes of 'Do I Need a Lawyer?' hosted by: Gary Martin Hays.
Now let's go to a question from one of our viewers.
"Hi Gary -
This is different kind of question and I hope you can help. Our daughter just turned 16 and recently passed her driving test to get her license. I really want to be proactive in working with her on various things about the car.
Here is my concern. Of course I never want her to be in a wreck. I had her go through a defensive driving course too. I just want to make sure she will know what to do if she is ever in a wreck.
Can you give me a list of Do's and Don'ts I can share with her?
-Rodney in Union City
Rodney - thanks for the great question!
Let me give you some statistics about wrecks involving inexperienced drivers:
* According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2006, there were 6,964 people killed in crashes involving young drivers ages 16 - 20.
* In 2005, there were 3,374 drivers between the ages of 16-20 that were killed in car wrecks.
* In the U.S., the risk of a teen driver between the ages of 16-19 being involved in a car wreck is 4 times higher than that for older drivers.
* Out of every 100 teen drivers on the road:
* 37 will be ticketed for speeding.
* 28 will be involved in accidents.
* 13 will be injured in automobile accidents.
* 4 will be ticketed for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and
* 1 will be killed in a car crash.
Let me share with you a study on drivers' education that was conducted by George Mason University in Virginia. This may give us a little clarity on why teenagers may be more likely to be involved in accidents when they get behind the wheel.
* "Teens, on their part, view driving as a right rather than a privilege. Overwhelmingly, study participants cited teen drivers' inexperience as well as their feeling of invincibility and willingness to take risks as contributing factors in unsafe driving behaviors. Participants also noted that teen drivers are easily distracted and lack the skills and judgment necessary to recover from unexpected incidents. "
* This same study concluded that parental involvement was the most important factor in teaching teens safe driving habits and behaviors.
The way for us to lower the risks of teens being involved in crashes is to:
* gradually release them to drive further distances and in more congested traffic as they demonstrate their ability.
* Parents need to simultaneously train and monitor the teen drivers as they learn.
Now let's address the "Do's and Don'ts if you are ever involved in a car wreck:
* If someone is injured, call 911 immediately!
* ALWAYS call the police to come to the scene. The officer will document the scene of the wreck, gather the facts, interview witnesses, and prepare a report. If you don't do this, it could be your word against the other driver.
* Exchange information with every person involved in the wreck, including:
-Make, model, color and year of the vehicle
* Get the same information from any witnesses.
* Take pictures at the scene if possible.
Include all cars, and any debris in the road at the scene.
* Report the wreck to your insurance company - even if you were not at fault.
* Don't panic. This is especially important if you or others at the scene are injured.
* NEVER leave the scene of the wreck.
* Don't accept blame for the wreck unless you speak with your attorney.
* Don't talk with the insurance company - or sign any papers with the insurance company - until you have discussed it with your lawyer.
* DO NOT - DO NOT - accept any quick settlement offer from any insurance company.
You need to assess the extent and severity of your injuries before you consider settling your claim.
Insurance companies are out there with these fast response vehicles.
They send them to the scene of the wreck or to your house.
They dangle a quick offer in front of you and encourage you to settle.
The adjuster acts like they are just there to help.
You take the quick money and sign the release.
But then a couple of weeks later, you are still hurting. You go to the doctor and discover your injuries are more severe than you first thought.
Your medical bills quickly pile up and are far more than what the insurance company gave you in the settlement.
What can you do now?
If your case is settled, you are out of luck! Case closed.
And insurance companies are getting away with this tactic every day.
DON'T FALL FOR IT!
If you are hurt in a car wreck, call a lawyer right away.