Car collision vs car accident in a Personal Injury Claim

car collision vs car accident

In the US, the terms “car collision” and “car accident” are used interchangeably. Is there a significant difference between the two? While this question may sound trivial, when it comes to personal injury claims, semantics is everything.

With this as context, the answer is YES – there is a difference between the two and it is certainly more significant than just spelling.

On motor vehicle incidents

News flash – most motor vehicle incidents are NOT accidents. We know what you are thinking – how can that be? You see, accidents including vehicles are defined as events that “happen by chance” or incidents that occur “without apparent or deliberate cause.”

This is certainly not the case in a vehicle accident. It never happens by chance since it’s the result of a series of events perpetrated by the liable party.

Such incidents may have been deliberately caused by distracted driving, drunk driving, or someone who was driving at a reckless speed or is following too closely.

There can be different reasons why car crashes occur, but there are two things that remain the same: one, they are the direct result of the liable party’s actions; and two, they are both predictable and avoidable.

Car collision vs car accident

There lies the difference between the terms “car collision” and “car accident.” The first connotes liability, predictability, and prevention. The second implies a mistake, an event that occurs by chance.

Once you get the difference between the two, you will understand why any experienced personal injury lawyer avoids the term “car accident” in his or her client’s personal injury claim.

Determining Liability

Context is everything in the personal injury business. Therefore, understanding the difference between a car collision and a car accident, no matter how technical it is, matters.

As mentioned earlier, a vehicular collision connotes liability and liability is one of the most important factors in any personal injury case.

 In fact, it can make or break a case. Personal injury lawyers go the extra mile to prove the liability of the erring party since the success of the lawsuit depends on it. Establishing a clear case of negligence will surely make it a lot easier to get the compensation that you deserve from the insurance companies.

Proving negligence

To prove that someone is liable for a car wreck, one must establish negligence. Negligence is a legal theory that must be proved before you can hold the erring party legally responsible for all the damages that you suffered.

There are 4 things that will help prove the negligence of the party at fault according to legal theory. They are:

  • Duty. The defendant (party at fault) owed a legal duty to the plaintiff under the circumstances.
  • The defendant breached that legal duty by acting or failing to act in a certain way.
  • The defendant’s actions (or inaction) are the actual and/or proximate cause of your injuries ( We can define the actual cause as the “cause in fact” while proximate cause means “legal cause” or the foreseeable consequence of one’s actions);
  • You were harmed or injured because of the defendant’s actions.

California has its own law specifically designated to the statutory definition of liability for negligent acts. According to California Civil Code Section 1714, “Everyone is responsible, not only for the result of his or her willful acts but also for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person, except so far as the latter has, willfully or by want of ordinary care, brought the injury upon himself or herself.”

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