When referring to a motor vehicle crash, is it correct to say "car accident" or "car wreck"?
I'll be honest...most people don't care about the distinction. And if you look at Google search data, it seems that all over the country, people tend to use the term "car accident" more than "car wreck" or "car crash".
So what's the problem?
The problem is that calling a motor vehicle collision or crash an "accident" implies that the crash was not preventable...that it was a fluke or an "act of God" so to speak. Safety experts and advocates all over the country argue with conviction that calling car crashes "accidents" is a misuse of the term.
The argument is that nearly every single motor vehicle crash occurs because of someone's negligence. That negligence could be in the form of reckless behavior and willful disregard for the safety of others like when a person chooses to drink and drive, text and drive, speed or ignore traffic laws. The negligence could be a momentary lapse of judgment and care as in reaching for a dropped item, taking a sip of coffee, or even looking too long at a store window while driving. It could even be in the form of a car manufacturer making a defective product, an auto shop completing a faulty repair, or a city failing to properly maintain its infrastructure.
The point is...car wrecks occur because someone, somewhere, to some degree was negligent. And to call it an accident diminishes the human error component of what takes place.
IS IT EVER POSSIBLE FOR A TRUE CAR ACCIDENT TO OCCUR?
Yes, it's possible. But it's so unlikely that a collision would occur without a shred of negligence or fault on someone's part that it's difficult to even think of a possible scenario. But for the sake of distinguishing between the two, it would be appropriate to call a crash an "accident" if say lightning were to strike a tree causing it to split and fall on a vehicle at the very moment a car was driving under it. It could even be argued that a crash caused by a driver who had a stroke with no warning signs whatsoever was an "accident". But even then, the driver would be considered at-fault and his/her insurance company would be responsible for the damage.
As an injury attorney, I can say it is difficult to break the habit of calling crashes accidents. It's so ingrained in our vocabulary. Even police reports refer to car crashes as MVAs, or Motor Vehicle Accidents. But I have a good friend who is a safety expert. She has devoted her career to preventing injury to children and teens through her work as a certified car seat safety technician and the director of a non-profit organization that teaches teens about the dangers of distracted driving. She is very good about correcting me whenever I, out of habit, refer to car accidents.
Because of her, our firm has taken steps to eliminate the term "accident" from our working vocabulary. This is difficult when you have thousands of business cards and promotional materials that mention "accidents" and hundreds of website pages that do the same, but we do feel that it is an important mission.
At Blase Inzina Injury Attorneys, we are passionate about helping people who have been injured because of someone else's negligence, regardless of how intentional it may or may not have been. If someone else caused you an injury that you are suffering physically or financially from, you deserve a full recovery. Give us a call to see how we can help.
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