While many children are still at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, some families are able to safely get back to you some more normal activities with their children. These may require collaborating with other parents to save each other time and to make sure activities run smoothly. This is why it can be extremely stressful if you or your children are involved in a serious car accident when carpooling. And it is certainly a frightening experience for parents, which is why you want to work with an attorney with years of experience and a successful track record of representing clients with cases like yours.
How To Be Safer When Carpooling
While there’s no way to guarantee one’s safety on the road, there are some things you can do to prevent carpool accidents, or mitigate some of the stress when they do happen.
First, it’s important to have up-to-date automobile insurance, and it’s best to get a plan that provides coverage above the state requirements. Before you let your children ride in the car of another driver, you should check their insurance first. If your children are teenagers, then you need to make sure that they are insured before driving, as well as any other teenagers that they drive with.
In addition to your coverage, you will also want to get uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage in case the at-fault driver does not have liability insurance. In that situation, you would have to pay for the medical bills and other damages that the other driver can’t. But in this case, you would be protected if the carpool driver was an underinsured driver, or if an underinsured driver caused a car accident.
Don’t Lose Focus
Most of the rules while driving are the same when carpooling, with a lot more vigilance. Everyone speeds every now and then or drives aggressively when in a bad mood or late somewhere, but that kind of behavior is not acceptable when carpooling other people’s children. Never accept phone calls or text while driving. If another parent is calling you, then pull over to take the call. Lastly, never drive while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. It’s better to call another parent and admit that you can’t drive than attempt to.
As the carpool driver, you set the tone for the ride and the rules in your vehicle. Every parent raises their children differently, so it’s important to speak to all the children about expectations while they are with you, contrary to when they may be carpooling with another parent if you have different rules or preferences. It’s always a good idea to stop and explain car rules before going anywhere when you are carpooling other people’s children and only takes a few moments. And while kids will be kids, setting some important ground rules can help them know what boundaries are acceptable in the car. Some great ones are:
- No use of electronic devices, or at least no use with the sound on
- Speak to each other at a reasonable volume
- Wear a seatbelt at all times
- No startling the driver; even if something spills in the car or some other minor incident happens, calmly tell the driver so that the car can be pulled over, if necessary. But screaming, yelling, or fighting are prohibited.
Some courts disagree that carpool contracts are enforceable between two or more parties prohibiting passengers from suing each other in the event of an accident. And they do not protect against negligence. These waivers are considered more or less signs of goodwill, but not permission to drive negligently.
While carpool contracts may not protect you as much as you’d like, you can increase your protection against another parent accusing you of negligence by installing a camera. If you are a carpool driver, then consider getting a car camera or “body cam”, and keep it on when you’re carpooling.
If Your Child Was In A Carpool Accident
If your child has been involved in a carpool accident, then you want to speak with the parent driver about what happened. You will also want to get a copy of the police report, which can be obtained by contacting the records department at the police department. Lastly, it’s important that your child gets medical attention right away. Keep all of those medical records as well as your medical bills. Call us immediately at Hipskind & McAninch, LLC, so we can help you with compassion and zeal.