If your teen has been involved in a car crash, your first priority is obviously getting the proper care for their physical injuries. However, you also need to keep an eye out for signs of emotional pain and suffering.
The trauma of a crash can stay with a teen long after their broken bones, concussion and lacerations have healed. That’s why it’s important to be aware of signs that your child is suffering emotionally.
How to spot the signs of lingering emotional damage
A serious crash can have a lingering emotional effect on anyone. For a teen who hasn’t been behind the wheel very long, it can be particularly difficult. While it’s normal to think about the crash and what they could have done differently (even if it wasn’t their fault), if your teen seems to be thinking and talking about it constantly or suffering from nightmares or insomnia, that’s not healthy.
If they’re having difficulty getting back to their schoolwork and extracurricular activities (once they’re physically able) and being around friends and family, that should also be cause for concern. It may be wise to have them see a therapist, even for a short time, to work through their feelings and put the crash in the proper perspective.
Helping your child regain a sense of control
Being involved in a crash – especially when another driver’s negligence or recklessness caused it – can leave anyone, but especially an inexperienced driver, feeling a loss of control and confidence. Encouraging them to get behind the wheel again when their doctor gives them the go-ahead can help them regain that confidence. Take it in small steps if necessary, with you or another adult along with them until they’re comfortable driving on their own again.
It’s also a good idea to have them involved in the insurance compensation process. While they likely shouldn’t be talking to the insurance company (and certainly not the other driver) alone, it’s a good idea to let them see what’s involved in seeking the necessary compensation for medical bills, car repair costs and other expenses and damages.
Remember that this can include therapist expenses and pain and suffering damages. This likely won’t be the last crash they have in their lives, so it’s important that they learn not to accept a settlement that doesn’t cover everything it should and that having legal guidance can be a good first step.