Each year, around six million car accidents occur across the nation, leading to potentially debilitating injuries for over two million motorists. Due to the intense, rapid forces that collisions apply to occupant’s bodies, car accidents often cause extensive damage, and in many cases these injuries can prove life-threatening. Victims who survive their injuries can face years of ongoing medical treatment and rehabilitative care, as well as emotional trauma.
Consider the information below to learn more about the diverse types of car accidents, then contact Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates immediately to discover your options for recovering compensation. Our team of experienced San Diego car accidents attorneys is available to discuss your personal injury or wrongful death claim and deliver you the best results in your case.
What Is the Difference Between an Accident and a Collision?
A car accident is defined as a collision between a moving vehicle and another vehicle, a stationary object, or a pedestrian or animal on the roadway. The terms “accident” and “collision” are often used interchangeably, but they feature vastly different connotations. Calling a car crash an accident instead of a collision may not seem like an important distinction but this tactic is used frequently by insurance adjusters to seriously undermine the validity of personal injury claims. Referring to a crash as an accident suggests that it could not have been foreseen by a reasonably cautious driver following the rules of the road, and indicates one of two scenarios:
- No one has taken responsibility for the crash, as it was simply an unexpected and unfortunate event, rather than the direct result of a driver’s error or negligence.
- The at-fault driver had no intention of causing the crash or harming others.
While minor traffic crashes happen daily and not all of them cause personal injuries, it is inaccurate and misleading to claim that all collisions are accidents. Substantial evidence from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows the vast majority of car crashes result from the behavior of the driver rather than unforeseen factors beyond the driver’s control. Calling a car crash an accident has serious implications for a claim as it effectively removes blame and legal responsibility from the driver whose careless or negligent behavior caused the crash. In fact, framing the crash in this manner is often an attempt to engender sympathy for the at-fault driver. This is a common approach for the at-fault driver’s insurance company to minimize or dismiss a claim.
To recover compensation for damages, your San Diego car accidents attorney must demonstrate negligence, or failure to drive with appropriate care that would have been displayed by a reasonably cautious driver under similar circumstances. The law cannot hold the at-fault driver legally liable for paying damages if the collision was genuinely an accident.
What Are the Types of Car Accidents?
Car crashes occur in a wide variety of ways, but the five most common types include:
- Rear-End Collisions – Rear-end collisions result in one vehicle colliding with the back end of a second vehicle. They are the number one type of crash nationwide, comprising 29% of all collisions. These crashes often happen due to tailgating, defined as maintaining too short of a following distance behind another car. When traffic slows or stops unexpectedly and an approaching driver neglects to direct their full attention to the activity ahead, they may fail to react in a timely manner, resulting in a collision. This type of crash is especially common during extreme weather conditions.
- Side Impact Collisions – Side impact collisions occur when one vehicle collides with the side of another vehicle. These crashes are the second most common type of collision, accounting for 27% of all crashes. They are especially dangerous because a vehicle’s sides are less capable of absorbing impact or shielding passengers. The occupants of the impacted vehicle are most likely to sustain serious injuries. A well-known form of side impact collision is a T-bone crash, in which the two vehicles form perpendicular lines. T-bone crashes often occur when a car runs through a stop sign or stoplight and collides with a car traveling through the intersection.
- Head-On Collisions – Head-on collisions result from the impact of two vehicles’ front ends. They are extremely dangerous to the occupants of both vehicles, causing more severe injuries and fatalities than any type of collision. Because head-on collisions generally involve one car unexpectedly crossing into the opposite lane, they tend to happen at higher speeds than other crashes, giving drivers less time to react. This type of collision is also common with drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Lane Change Collisions – Lane change collisions can occur when drivers attempt to merge onto the highway or into another lane and sideswipe another vehicle. They are typically caused by drivers who fail to check their blind spots or properly signal before changing lanes. Inexperienced drivers who merge too slowly and reckless drivers who speed to cut other drivers off while merging can both cause accidents. Lane change collisions tend to happen in cases of high-speed traffic or crowded lanes, with multiple drivers attempting to merge at the same time.
- Multiple Vehicle Collisions – Multiple vehicle collisions involve three or more vehicles colliding with one another. They occur most often on busy highways during especially heavy traffic and combine the worst aspects of both rear-end and head-on collisions. This type of collision is incredibly dangerous because vehicles are absorbing multiple forceful impacts from several angles. The nature of multiple vehicle collisions also makes it more challenging for victims of the crash to exit the vehicle, or for emergency responders to access victims trapped inside.
What Are the 3 Mortal Mistakes for Car Crashes?
The top three mortal mistakes that result in deadly car crashes are:
- Distracted driving. Any task that removes your attention from driving is considered a distraction. Visual distractions cause you to shift your eyes away from the task at hand. Meanwhile, manual distractions cause you to remove your hands from the wheel and prolong reaction times. Finally, cognitive distractions focus the mind on other things besides driving. In 2018, more than 2,800 people died and 400,000 more received injuries in collisions caused by a distracted driver.
- Speeding. Speeding is a contributing factor in one out of every three deadly car collisions. Traveling at excessive speeds for the current road conditions increases the amount of force created in a collision and decreases the amount of time available to safely respond to hazards in the roadway. Speeding also tends to occur in combination with other dangerous driving behaviors, such as tailgating and improper lane changing, further increasing the risk of a collision.
- Drunk or drugged driving. Consuming alcohol, drugs, and other controlled substances significantly diminish a driver’s concentration, coordination, and perception, making collisions more likely to occur and more likely to have fatal consequences. The CDC reports that around 30% of all fatal crashes involve drunk or drugged driving. 30 people die every day in car collisions caused by motorists driving under the influence.
How Can We Prevent Car Accidents?
Prevent the most common types of car accidents by following the tips below:
- Avoid rear-end collisions by maintaining a safe following distance between your vehicle and the car in front of you and keeping your attention on the road, particularly in high-traffic areas. Experts suggest leaving 10 feet of distance for every 10 miles per hour you are traveling, meaning 40 feet for 40 mph, 60 feet for 60 mph, and so on.
- Mind your vehicle’s size. Large vehicles and motorcycles require longer stopping distances and poor weather conditions drastically impact your ability to safely come to a complete stop. Counting two seconds between your vehicle and the one before you serves as a good standard for dry roads, four seconds is required for rainy roads, and ten seconds should be used when roads are covered in ice or snow.
- Avoid side impact collisions by always checking in both directions for oncoming traffic, regardless of whether you have the right of way. Never assume other motorists are paying attention and following the rules of the road.
- Avoid head-on collisions by always obeying the rules of the road, avoiding distractions, and never driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Avoid collisions while merging by thoroughly checking your blind spots and using your turn signal before attempting to merge. You should also make sure to maintain a safe speed in merge areas, as higher speeds make it more difficult for other drivers to see your vehicle when they try to change lanes.
- Avoid multiple vehicle collisions by remaining alert and driving with caution on roadways with vehicles traveling at high speeds. If you notice another driver appears distracted or makes unsafe maneuvers, move away from them to keep yourself away from harm.
Our San Diego Car Accidents Attorneys Can Deliver Justice and Compensation
If you experienced a collision that was not your fault and sustained serious injuries, contact Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates today to discuss your options for recovering compensation. Along with his role as a renowned, award-winning trial attorney, Ken Sigelman is also a licensed doctor, offering in-depth medical knowledge as well as extensive litigation experience. Regardless of the type of car accident you experienced, we can protect your rights, negotiate with insurance companies to pursue the maximum compensation for your damages, and aggressively advocate on your behalf in court.
Contact us today by submitting the form on our website to schedule a consultation with our team.