Is There Such a Thing as a Car “Accident”?

The term ‘car accident’ is widely used across the United States. If it is not called a car accident someone, then it is probably a ‘motor vehicle accident.’ But even though these are common colloquial terms for when two or more vehicles crash into each other, are they even all that accurate? Is there such a thing as a car accident?

Some personal injury attorneys argue that there can’t be a car “accident” in pure terms of the definition of the word ‘accident.’ At the root of essentially all car crashes, there is negligence in one form or another. For example, many crashes are caused by texting drivers. Some are caused by defective auto parts that break suddenly while the car is in motion, making the driver lose control.

Essentially all forms of negligence should be preventable. A driver can choose not to pick up their cellphone or not drink before driving. An automaker can improve inspection standards to ensure all parts that go into a vehicle are made correctly. A truck driver can pull over and get some sleep instead of trying to complete a route while exhausted. With carefulness and foresight, the reasonable person can prevent the many types of negligence that cause motor vehicle collisions.

Under this argument, because all forms of negligence are largely preventable, it is not an “accident” if one driver hits another. Instead, it is the direct and predictable outcome of that driver’s negligence. Is it still fair to call it an ‘accident’ in that case? Possibly not.

Does the Name of a Crash Matter?

Calling a crash a ‘car accident’ or a ‘traffic collision’ is, for the most part, a matter of preference. It doesn’t have a direct influence on the legalities of the case. However, some attorneys will be insistent on calling a crash anything but an accident. This is to underscore the fact that someone caused it, and it was not their client. When it comes down to difficult fights with stubborn insurance companies, it might be important to take every opportunity you can to insist that the other motorist’s negligence was the sole contributor to the crash.