30 answers

Don't Know What to Do About 16 Year Old Son's "Accident."

I just got a call from our insurance company about an "accident" my son had. I was totally blindsided because my son mentioned nothing about it. I called him and he told me he swiped a car that was parked as he was trying to park in the school parking lot. He said the owner came over, wiped his hand across his car and said there was no damage but took my son's information anyway. Now he is claiming damages. I am furious with my son for not calling me at the time to have me come over, as we don't live but a few minutes from the school. I'm wondering if this guy has other damage he's now trying to pin on my son. He said there are scratches on his car. We have a black car with a rubber bumper. I've swiped a car once before parking in a space and there was no damage. Just black marks from the rubber bumper that you can wipe right off. Now I don't know whether I should take the keys away from my son and suspend his driving privileges for awhile or if that's overreacting. I'm more angry that he did not call me and let me know about the accident, or even tell me after the fact since it happened Saturday at football practice. For those of you with teen drivers, what would you do? Our insurance for him is already high enough, I'd hate to see it go even higher for this stupid incident!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I want to address this comment,"Your son was also responsible enough to call the insurance on his own....impressive if you asked me!" My son did not call the insurance company. There was nothing in my statement that said he did. The man called our insurance company to file a claim. I spoke to the insurance again today and asked them to come take an estimate of our car and pictures so they can see that our car wouldn't have caused scrapes. I also found out the other driver's car was a mercedes benz, so it only confirms my suspicions that this is some uppity jerk who is trying to take advantage of my son.

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Beeing a person who as a teen was screwed over by an adults mistake I wouldn't take it too hard out on him. I was 16 when I was picking up a friend at her house, her mom did daycare and as we were getting into the car this lady drove up the driveway very fast and ran into my passingers door fast and bent it back. I did not have a cell phone and couldn't call the police at the time she whipped out her phone and called 911 and said I backed into her car with my door open. LOL anyhow my friend wouldn't say anything becasue this lady hat 4 of the 7 kids in her daycare...anyhow no longer friends with her. Needless to say if you don't know what happened a large punishment would not be wise.

1 mom found this helpful

My vote would be for using it as a teaching opportunity and not a punitive one. It sounds like he thought it was a minor incident and not worthy of telling you. If it happens again and he doesn't tell you, then that would be the time for thinking about taking away the keys.

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I have raised two teenagers and had many dealings with cars. I think this is an opportunity for education (what to do next time) rather than punishment (he clearly believed no damage had been done). A 16 year-old needs to have knowledge about how to handle common incidents without having to call a parent every time (next time may not be close to home). This is called allowing them to grow up.

As for the insurance situation, I would first talk with the other car's owner calmly to determine what they think the damage is, view it if possible, and if any (likely minor scuffing or scratches) offer to take care of it personally and keep the insurance companies out of it.

As for this being a "stupid incident" - all incidents leading to car damage could be called "stupid" and we've all had them - 16 years old and on up.

7 moms found this helpful

See what happens first. It sounds like this other driver is just trying to milk the system. I can see an otherwise good teen not telling his parent about something like this when the other driver said there was no damage. It doesn't mean he's irresponsible, and it might have been a good first lesson for your son.

Now hopefully that other driver doesn't start having "neck pain" and stuff like that. Jerk.

6 moms found this helpful

Well, I'm an extremely conscientious person, but if I were in your son's shoes (and I have been), I would, as an inexperienced person having my first little crunch with another car, have just said "Whew, that was lucky," and kept the incident to myself, having learned already what I needed to learn from the situation. In part, for me, this was because my mom was hyper-controlling and thought punishments should be applied early and often for the good of her children.

What your son didn't realize, and many adults wouldn't either, was that the other driver might revisit the issue later, or even try to collect for other damages. This was a miscalculation about human behavior based on inexperience, but there was nothing malicious or intentional about it.

Since the purpose of punishment is to drive home a point, I'd just have a chat with my son about what he has already realized because of this incident, and how to handle similar situations better in the future. He's unlikely to make the same mistake again (unless I'm just miscalculating him based on my assumptions about what I'd be thinking if I were him).

6 moms found this helpful

Those are called "lies of omission." You shouldn't have to ask him. He needs to fess up right away, regardless of the amount damage. You shouldn't have to know the questions to ask, to get the entire truth.

My parents classified these in our home worse than any other type of lie.

I would take his car away for a month. NOT for the accident, but rather for not telling you. Tell him how awful it was to hear the truth from a total stranger. Also, if he ever gets in another accident again, he needs to take pics with his cell, or someone else's cell right away.

I lied (repeatedly) to my parents when I was 12 over a movie I had seen, and I lost my phone line forever, wasn't allowed to talk on the phone, go to parties or hang out at friend's home for 3 months, AND I had to ride the bus to/from school everyday for the rest of the school year...which I was the FIRST pick-up in the am and the LAST drop off in the afternoon. I decided that telling the truth, no matter how bad, couldn't be as bad as this.

4 moms found this helpful

If there wasn't a police report, i don't think this other driver can really make a claim against your insurance/son. There's no proof! It's his word against yours. You can & should talk to your insurance agent about the incident, explain that your son is young & naieve about freely giving out his insurance info. when there was no damage involved AND no police involved! Tell the insurance agents exactly what you told us...the guy wiped his hand across the car, said there was no damage, but took your young, inexperienced son's insurance info "Just in case". Tell them you think the man is trying to swindle you & commit insurance fraud. I can guarantee you if there is already a claim in the works, it'll come to a grinding halt. Insurance companies take fraud seriously. And, if the jerk only has scratches, rubbing compound will take/buff that out...no need to file a claim over scratches!

As for your son, i'd say talk to him to make him understand he doesn't just freely give out insurance info. And reiterate that he NEEDS to call you if there is ever any accident or minor incident in the future. My daughter is 17, and i'd hate to see this happen to her. I would probably ground my daughter for a short time from driving, but the main thing is to talk to your son & make him understand the importance of calling on his parents in situations like this. Don't be too harsh on him mom, this other man blew it off like it was nothing. Your son can't help that this guy is a scammer.

3 moms found this helpful

Don't be hard on your son, he thought it was a done deal and didnt need to tell Mommy about it. He knows NOW that it is in his best interest if there is a next time to make sure you get informed. His response was pretty normal, if it was a daughter she probably would have told you right away.... girls are more apt.
I'd say wait it out and see what happens as probably nothing will. Who was the other driver, was it also a minor? Make sure you have your own "good" adjuster look at the damages to make sure they boil down to what did happen in that parking lot.

3 moms found this helpful

i didnt take the time to read the other responses so someone may have already suggested this....keep a disposable camera in the vehicle. we had a run in with a nut job one day. she decided we had hit her car, but we hadnt. we took pictures of the scene and both cars. when she saw us with the camera she shut up and left.

2 moms found this helpful

I think rather than focus on what already happened and what he DIDN'T do, focus on what your expectations in a situation like this in the future. He was just acting like a typical person - he didn't think anything happened, he was embarrassed, he thought he would get in trouble, and so he didn't say anything.

Tell him in the future, if he ever gets in a fender bender, to take pictures with his phone (I actually keep a disposable camera in the glove box of my vehicle) of both vehicles (obviously, this is only for fender benders, etc - any "real" damage requires a police report). I actually had something similar happen to me a few years ago. I "bumped" the person in front of me on their back bumper with my front bumper - they false started out into traffic at a yield. There wasn't any damage. However, this woman lept out of her car yelling that she needed my insurance info because when she got home, she was sure she would find the damages. I told her "sure, I will give you my insurance info, but let me take some pictures first." She hopped back in her car and drove away.

If push comes to shove, ask the other party if you can pay for a buffing out of any scratches and a full detailing of the car - maybe that way you can avoid an insurance claim.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

Insurance company adjusters are pretty savvy about sussing out pre-existing damage from newly claimed damage. If the location of the scrapes or the color of the paint transfer don't match up, they'll figure it out and use that as a reason not to pay on the claim. In some situations where there is a small scrape or scratch and the claim is for the paint repair only, then it really is beneficial to pay on the claim rather than get attorneys involved.

As for your teenage son's driving rights, I don't have a teenager yet but I think there has to be some consequence for not telling you about the accident, no matter whether it was a big or small accident. Suspending his driving rights for a while would be a fair consequence. I'm sure there are other types punishments you can enforce that would be equally as good. It's really up to you to decide what would be fair and what works.

Hope this helps.

2 moms found this helpful

I can understand why you are upset, but in the scheme of things, there are a lot worse things your son could do. Had you gone over with him the proper procedure for when accidents occur? I would review with him what you expect, and if possible, pay for the damages without getting insurance involved; make him for the bill. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

If the other driver told your son there was no damage and no damage to his car, he probably just thought he was very lucky and figured there would be no report and no claim. Should he have mentioned it? Yes, but it sounded like a very minor situation. Did he get the information on the other driver? That is one thing you might want to do is to review what to do if you are involved in an accident--what to say, what not to say, what documents to show, what you need to get from the other driver, when you need to call the police, when you need to call your parents to the site of the accident.

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I would think they'd have to prove that the damage was caused by your car. But I've never been in this situation.

I'm not sure if you should punish your son or not. I'm sure he thought everything was ok because there was no damage. Maybe he thought he was being responsible by handling it himself & thought it was nothing. I think you definitely need to sit down with him and just discuss what to do for any future instances. Explain to him that some people are just plain evil and will try to get things for free out of someone. He needs to be aware of how to stay safe when dealing with even minor accidents with strangers.

I remember being young and getting into a minor accident. I was extremely nervous & freaked out and it wasn't even my fault! (A guy rear-ended me at an intersection, minor damage to my rear fender) My parents may have talked to me about what to do in case of an accident, but I still didn't know what to do! lol

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I'm sure you are annoyed, but he is a teen and they don't always think things through like an adult. Let your insurance company handle it. Tell them what happened. They can examine the cars and make a determination whether your son was responsible for the damage. However, your son did admit swiping a car.......insurance will go up anyway. Your son was also responsible enough to call the insurance on his own....impressive if you asked me! I would be mad he didn't tell me about it too, but what's done is done.....

This is what we did. We required our kids to have the deductible saved and in the bank before they were allowed to drive the car. They were responsible for paying the deductible AND if the insurance is going up because of multiple accidents there is no reason you can't tell your son that he is responsible for that difference in cost...... if he wants to continue to drive. This way a lot of the aggravation is out of it because you aren't footing the bill. Almost ALL kids have an accident their first year driving.

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ZZ, Please don't assume because someone drives a nice car that they are "uppity jerks" trying to take advantage of your son. If your son had come to you right away, this could already be behind you. Taking his side completely is not the best solution in this case.


I would take the car away for a month. It should be clear to your teenager that all accidents (large or small) need to be reported to you and dad.

Take your son and go see the owners of the other car. Hopefully there won't be alot of damage. You will also be able to reslove if your son told the truth about what was said at the time the accident occurred. If what he said was true, I would still take the car away, but just for one week.


1 mom found this helpful

I would have a serious talk with your son about not being truthful about what happened and Dad needs to do most of the talking. This was irresponsible and not fully honest. Call the insurance co and find out what the cost is going to be to get the person's car fixed after estimates are in. THen I would have your son pay for the cost of the persons repair and also pay for the increase in your insurance premuim that may occur. This will make him think twice before he does this again. Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

Stay calm, get all the facts before jumping to conclusions. Your son will be watching your reaction. This is a point to show him about honesty and taking responsibility. It's possible that the car was damaged, but it did not appear so at first. Anyway, it's easy to get upset and let emotions rule when you're dealing with all these hot-button issues: teen independence, trust, damage liability, insurance, and money! That's why I say, stay calm, get the facts, and show your son how being honest, respectful and responsible is always the best way. I would also recommend including your son in a conversation with your insurance agent. He will learn from it. I would not be too hard on you son. Make sure that going forward he knows how he should handle these situations.

1 mom found this helpful

Beeing a person who as a teen was screwed over by an adults mistake I wouldn't take it too hard out on him. I was 16 when I was picking up a friend at her house, her mom did daycare and as we were getting into the car this lady drove up the driveway very fast and ran into my passingers door fast and bent it back. I did not have a cell phone and couldn't call the police at the time she whipped out her phone and called 911 and said I backed into her car with my door open. LOL anyhow my friend wouldn't say anything becasue this lady hat 4 of the 7 kids in her daycare...anyhow no longer friends with her. Needless to say if you don't know what happened a large punishment would not be wise.

1 mom found this helpful

I would take his driving privileges, but not for the accident. I would take them for two weeks for not telling you about the accident. He has to know that coming to you was the right choice and when it comes to fender benders of any kind, once you give your information out, there is no such thing as no big deal. Break down for him, since he has little life experience, every concievable way that this could go wrong. Then tell him he can have the keys back after you have all had time to think and come up with an action plan for scenarios like these and you are positive he knows what to do in any situation - about two weeks.

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I am just reading this post, so I know my response is a little late. In my opinion and this is from experience with a teen ager as well, I don't think your son was intentionally trying to lie or keep this from you. Since the owner of the other vehicle was an adult, your son probably felt like this person was trustworthy and when he "wiped his hand across his car and said there was no damage" your son probably thought this was the end of it.

I am sure if your son had known that the owner was going to contact your insurance company he would have told you. You should definitely talk to your son and let him know that no matter how small an incident is, he should always contact you immediately. Regardless of what the other person says.

As for the the owner contacting your insurance company, I agree with some of the other posts. He needs to be able to prove that your son did damage to his vehicle. And if there was damage, why didn't he call the police at that time. That's normally what people do when their vehicles are hit.

Find out how soon the owner of the other vehicle contacted your insurance company. Had he left from where the incident took place than contacted your insurance company and did he take pictures of the damage while your son was present? All of that has to be taken into consideration.

Investigate this incident as much as you can. Ask your son were there other people around who may have witnessed what took place. If this person's intentions were to file damage claims than the police should have been contacted.

I hope things work out for you.

I think it would be over reacting to give such a harsh punishment for this. I have a son who is currently learning to drive. Since the other man said there was no damage, I don't see why your son would think he needed to tell you. I would just educate him on how to handle the situation next time. If my child threw a ball at a window and it didn't cause damage, I wouldn't punish him for not telling me. But if he broke the window and didn't tall me, that would be another story. Thanks for asking the question; now I know another thing I need to explain to my son.

I am the mother of a 17 year old son and I think I would definitely take away some driving privileges for awhile. It's not about the accident, but about not telling you about it at all. It's a trust issue and now you are going to have to deal with the headaches with the insurance companies and he should not just keep right on going as if he didn't cause the problem.

I would take his keys away for a determined amount of time for the lying/omission of information and make him cover any difference in the cost of the insurance as a result of the claim if he wants to keep driving.


I would do whatever you do if he is caught in a lie. Omission of the truth is technically a lie.

This is a good learning experience for him - always take pics of the damage if in an accident. But if there are only scratches on the other car, I don't think you have anything to worry about - deductible would most likely be higher than what it would cost to get it fixed.

I noticed you are from MD. I just moved to MD. The driving age is 16??? I thought most states bumped it up to 18 over the past few years. 16 is so young to be on your own driving (can you tell I am a new parent...lol)

Good luck with everything, and don't stress,

My vote would be for using it as a teaching opportunity and not a punitive one. It sounds like he thought it was a minor incident and not worthy of telling you. If it happens again and he doesn't tell you, then that would be the time for thinking about taking away the keys.

Should your son have told you about the accident? Yes. Is it not being honest, or lying? No. What it is is a very good learning experience for you and mostly for your son. Sounds like he truly didn't believe there was any reason to say anything to you, thought he was doing the right thing by giving insurance info and most likely, it wasn't even on his mind by the time he saw you.
Hopefully, he is already paying his part for insurance and if this ends up raising it a bit, he'll be paying more. That will simply be a consequence of making a mistake in life. Lesson learned!
Best of luck!

Because of insurance costs, we did not allow our son to drive to and from school. The school busses were sufficient. During sports season or just when he needed to stay after for extra help, he could take the activity bus home. My insurance doubled when he was added so I cannot afford for it to go up even further with an accident on the record. He did not earn rights to drive until he got a part time job and payed his own insurance. Would I take his keys? NO. Sometimes kids get nervous and just don't know what to do in this situation. Explain to him what needs to happen ALWAYS if he's in a fender bender or whatever. I would also discuss this with the insurance adjuster and ask for guidance. The last thing you need is your premium going up.

Was there a police report? Most insurance companies want a police report to file a claim to know what happened. I would call your insurance company and see what is up, and see if there is a police report. Do this with son around so he sees how to handle it in a calm manner and what steps need to be taken. (My parents lived over seas when I started to drive, my first fender bender on a rainy day FREAKED my out, could not call parents due to time difference, was not sure what to do, but did call the police and they walked me through it... not every teenager would think like that).

It seems that both teenagers were a little "freaked out" or unsure of what to do, and if no police report was made I would make sure that there are no bogus claims from this other kid and fight it (through your insurance, let them know the situation, they will want to fight it if there are bogus claims and no police report because that means in the end they have to pay less for the repairs). Obviously son should have called you to see how to handle the situation if he was unsure of what to do and your son should have told you no matter what.

Accidents do happen so have a talk/reminder talk on how to handle these situations. Then figure out a punishment more for the lie then the accident, no car privileges for a few weeks to a month. If there is a difference in the car insurance due to this accident son pays for it (if possible) or if not possible he does extra work around the house to pay for the difference (this may last a year until he ages or has a 'clean' driving record).

Your son needs to call you first when there is an incident-period. Unless someone is injured-then call 911 first-they will send the police and ambulance.Evry known entity takes advantage of children. A 16 yr old is a child and I have have 5 kids and known many and have never known one 16 yr old that should be driving-myself included!

Love Wendy E's advice about the camera. I'm sorry you're going through this, but I'm glad you posted. You reminded me that when my girls are of driving age (we're several years away) that I need to have a conversation with them about always calling a cop to the scene of an accident, and NEVER give your insurance info to someone without a cop present. There are always a few people out there who will screw you (pardon my French). I had a minor fender bender (the other guy's fault - didn't yield) His car had a HUGE amount of damage that the guy was trying to pin on me. It was so obvious to me that my car didn't cause it - besides the fact that the accident was HIS fault. He kept asking me for my insurance info over and over, very persistent. I called the police before giving the guy my info and the cop told me not to give the other driver ANYTHING. I think he knew the other guy was going to try to squeeze money out of me. The other driver finally gave up and drove away. There was no damage to my car, so I didn't pursue it. Anyway, just something for everyone out there to think about. As a teenager I was more trusting, and I don't think it would have occurred to me to withhold my insurance info until the police were there to write up a report. So, I might be a little upset with my teenager for not mentioning it, but I have a feeling it was an innocent mistake. Hope it all works out :)

Sorry but if it were my son, he'd lose the keys for a very long time. That just isn't responsible behavior at all. Now it's his word against this man's word and a teenager who didn't tell anyone about the incident is not as likely to be believed. Obviously, I have no idea whether there was damage or not, but the bigger issue is not telling you. If your insurance goes up, make him pay the difference and explain to him that had he called you, you could have been there to back him up but now there's no saying what damage was there or not. The insurance companies will likely inspect it, however, to see if it's consistent with what happened.

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