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Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on March 1st, 2021,
by Zane Cagle

Car Accidents vs. Car Crash Incidents: They are all “incidents”

Person taking a photo of a wrecked bumper

Posted on March 1st, 2021 by Zane Cagle

The term, “car accident “is the most commonly used term referring to a motor vehicle crash.  If you have ever been in a car crash, you may have noticed that the report done by law enforcement is called an “incident report” rather than an accident report.  While the terms are used interchangeably by many, all collisions are “incidents” and not accidents by definition.

Why car collisions are really “incidents” vs. “accidents”

The term “accident” is “an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause”.  The fact is, 99% of all car crashes do have a cause or multiple causes. The term “accident” implies that the incident occurred purely by chance of circumstances.  “Incident” is defined as “an event or occurrence”. There are causes to car crashes and often the terms “accident” and ” incident” are used interchangeably.  The two terms are similar in that an accident and or an incident is not usually “purposeful or deliberate”.  Rarely, do vehicles simply collide when all drivers are following the rules of the roadway.  Meaning car “accidents” are extremely rare while we know that car crashes and or motor vehicle incidents occur daily.

Causes of car collisions:

Inattentiveness.  While many may think that “distracted driving” is the number one cause, distracted driving is a part of a category of inattentive driving. No matter the language, we are all familiar with inattentive driving behaviors–any behavior that takes your attention away from the roadway.  However, inattentiveness can cover many driving behaviors in addition to distracted driving.  Inattentiveness can occur when a driver fails to pay attention to the roadway whether that is due to distracted driving, drowsiness, speeding or a myriad of other behaviors.  It is critical that all drivers pay the upmost attention to the roadway.   Often, eating, drinking, applying makeup, chatting with other passengers are all behaviors that drivers can engage in that can cause inattentiveness. Does this mean you cannot have a drink in your car or you cannot converse with other occupants–of courses not.  However, you do have to take steps to be sure that you are focused on the roadway at all times.

Speeding:  Speeding has always been a cause or contributing cause of crashes, especially serious injury and fatal crashes. While a driver is speeding, they have less reaction time and more easily lose control of their vehicle. Speed limits on roadways are there for the expressed purpose of keeping all motorists safe. Do we want to apply the gas and go faster on cleared straight roads?  Well, yeah, it is tempting. However, the 12 percent increase in car crash fatalities in Missouri in 2020, should make all of us re-examine the safety of the speeds we choose.  Roadway experts have shared that while we have had a great reduction in overall traffic across Missouri since the pandemic began in March 2020, we have a sharp increase in fatalities and many are attributed to exceeding speed limits.

Failure to Follow Rules of the Road:  When drivers fail to follow the rules of the road including yielding to right-of-way, obeying traffic signs and lights, safely merging and following speed limits; the rate of crashes greatly increase. Impatience is one of the most common reasons that drivers fail to follow the rules of the road.   We have all experienced a really impatient driver weaving in and out of traffic and tailgating. We get it–you have somewhere to be.  However, few people take a relaxing drive just to kill time during St. Louis rush hour—we all have some place to be.  We all want to get there safely!

Car Accident- Car Crash Incident

Whether you usually use these terms interchangeably may reflect whether or not you have ever been in a car crash. If you have been hit by someone who was driving negligently and you were hurt, you may take issue with the phrase ‘accidents happen”. Actually, they do not just happen when drivers are obeying the rules of the roadway.  We take exception when an insurance carrier does not want to compensate our seriously injured client with the phrase, “accidents happen”.  Insurance adjusters and companies no better than anyone that car accidents do not just naturally happen 6 million times a year across the United States.

If you’ve been in a car crash, you generally know exactly what happened and what happened in the proceeding moments.  Those people who are so seriously injured that they lose consciousness may not have memory of the crash. Again, when representing injured people, the very idea that “accidents happen” is kind of a trigger button for us.

More than Six Million Crashes are Not Simply Accidents

If there were six million car collisions that were simply a coincidence of events every year, we would have to deem that roadway transportation was inherently too dangerous to continue.  Every car crash expert knows that a particular event occurred or multiple events occurred that resulted in a car collision. Car crashes occur because drivers make errors. Drivers fail to yield, speed, fail to pass properly and fail to stop at signs and lights. When any one of these causes happen, the chance of a crash greatly increases.

Types of Car Crash Incidents

Rear-Ending:

Many people that rear-end crashes are simply not that serious.  Every car crash is different as each person is different.  A rear-ending force does not have to be that hard to cause injury to occupants as it is jarring and often reflexive.  “Whiplash” another term used interchangeably with neck injury is common. Again, whiplash simply refers to a neck injury where the spine is not broken. However, neck injuries can involve very serious injuries without the spine being broken. Disc injuries are often one of the most painful injuries and many times require surgery.   Folks suffering from neck injury may not have a clear diagnosis of anything beyond “whiplash” for some time. So, seeking medical treatment if you have continued symptoms is critical.

Spine injuries are common in rear-end collisions.  While some just have some initial pain, continued pain including radiating pain, numbness and tingling in extremities are first signs that you want to get immediate follow up medical assistance.  If you went to the emergency room, they will typically x-ray your neck/back or do a CT scan. These types of imaging only really evaluate whether or not your spine is fractured.  Follow the doctor’s direction and follow up with your primary care doctor right away after seeking initial emergency treatment.

Head-On Crash

Head-on crashes are without a doubt classified as some of the most devastating crashes resulting in serious injury and fatalities.  Head on crashes result in the combined force of two vehicles concentrated on the front occupants.  Ejection of occupants can be extremely high if seat belts are not worn.  The force that is exacted on the front passengers is often not survivable.  When head-on collisions happen, there are clear causes. In a head-on crash, someone is clearly not in their assigned lane.  Gruesome injuries often occur as a result of head-on collisions.  Drunk drivers will meander across the center line as will distracted drivers. If you’ve ever had a car coming at you head-on, it is terrifying.  The ultimate bad combination is a drunk, speeding driver.  Three out of four head-on crashes occur on rural roads and three out of four head-on collisions occur on undivided two-lane roads.  Injuries can be anything from broken bones, head injuries and death.

T-Bone Crashes

Intersections of traffic are the most common places for collisions.  Drivers must obey road signs and yield the right-of-way and pay close attention. When they do not, these intersection crashes occur or commonly called T-bone crashes.  Again, these crashes have a cause or multiple causes.   Of all car crashes, 60% of deaths are caused by T-bone side crashes.  The scenario for a larger vehicle striking a passenger vehicle at a high rate of speed is especially serious.  Side impact crashes are extremely dangerous and result in serious inquires.

Getting the Help You Need Following a Car Crash

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle collision, you will need legal assistance. Unfortunately, insurance carriers do not always step up and take care of injury claims as they should. In fact, if you are injured, you should not be discussing your health and medical treatment with an adjuster right away. Consult a lawyer so that your rights and financial interests are covered.  An experience motor vehicle crash attorney has one priority which looking out for your best interest.

Things to Do ASAP After a Car Crash

  1. Seek medical help. Your personal well-being has to be paramount.  Go to the doctor, immediately. If you are waiting for permission or approval, then you will be waiting a long time. The auto insurance company will not pay-as-you-go. They may say their driver is liable, but they will not actually pay your bills as you attend appointments.  Call an attorney when you have questions.
  2. Do not discuss medical treatment with an insurance adjuster.  Most think if they are really transparent with the adjuster, then the adjuster will treat them extra fairly.  We wish this were the case. DO NOT talk about your medical treatment especially if you are going to need more of it.  You simply tell the adjuster you are ‘still treating” meaning  you are still going to the doctor. You should always be truthful, but you are not obligated to share any of your medical information or tell them if you have health insurance. Ask questions of attorneys BEFORE you start talking with an adjuster.
  3. Call an attorney.  There are many places online to look up information online and there are many sources that give formulas and estimates. Please know these “estimates” and “formulas” are fairly random and not correct for every person.  Cases vary a great deal depending on the facts of the incident, nature of injuries, state and insurance coverage.  In most instances, those who are injured have no idea what their medical journey will look like thus it is way premature to discuss your treatment with an adjuster for some time.   Call our attorneys for a free consultation.

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