A teen’s first crash can be emotionally devastating

A car crash can be traumatic for anyone. When it happens to a teen driver who’s only been behind the wheel on their own for a few months or maybe even a bit longer, it can be emotionally devastating – even if they weren’t at fault.

Naturally, you’re most concerned about your child’s physical injuries after a crash. However, you shouldn’t neglect their emotional pain and suffering. That can continue even after their physical injuries have healed.

Watch for signs of anxiety and trauma

It’s important to keep an eye out for signs that your teen is suffering some level of trauma after a crash. You know them better than anyone, so you can tell when something is off – whether they’re open about their feelings or they try to hide them.

When people of any age have a hard time getting over a crash, they generally replay in repeatedly in their head or talk about it non-stop. They may suffer from insomnia or nightmares. That’s normal for a bit, but it’s not healthy if it starts to interfere with their schoolwork, extracurricular activities and social life. Talking with a therapist may help them process their feelings about the crash.

Help them get behind the wheel again

It’s not uncommon for teens to be afraid to start driving again. It’s important to encourage them to do that as soon as they’re physically healed enough. The longer they wait, the harder it will be. It’s important to do this gradually, with you in the passenger seat until you’re both sure they’re ready. It may help them regain their confidence if they have a couple of driving sessions with a driver’s ed teacher.

Another way to help them feel in control is to include them in your dealings with the insurance company. They certainly shouldn’t talk to any representative – or the other driver — alone. However, this will be good experience for when they’re involved in another collision at some point in the future.

If your child is seeing a therapist after the crash, remember that you have as much right to seek compensation for that from the at-fault driver’s insurance as for medical costs. Don’t agree to a settlement until you know the full extent of your expenses and damages.