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Is it a Car Crash or a Car Accident?

difference between car crash and car accident

What is the difference in meaning between a car crash and car accident? The Colorado State Patrol (CSP) has stopped using the word “accident” in regard to a vehicle wreck. Instead, they use the words “crash” or “collision.” Why? An accident is unexpected and unintentional, and therefore is not preventable. On the other hand, a “crash” is something drivers can avoid.

Crash vs. Accident

We all use the term ‘car accident’. But, we probably don’t think twice about what that term “accident” really means. “Accident” is defined as “an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.” It occurs “…without apparent or deliberate cause.” Whenever anyone is in a ‘car accident’, it’s common to think it’s an unfortunate incident – no one wants to be in a car accident. But what does using the word ‘accident’ actually say about the event?

What Qualifies as a Car Accident?

Accidents occur if a driver loses control of their vehicle and hits something or someone. The driver had no intention of doing so, and the result of the accident was a crash, but it’s still referred to as an accident.

An example of a car accident would be

  • if a rockslide breaks loose and debris falls onto the road or the vehicle
  • if a sinkhole suddenly appears in the middle of the road where a car is driving

What Qualifies as a Car Crash?

A car crash, on the other hand, can be avoided. They occur because of someone’s negligence or intentional behaviors. A car crash happens because at least one driver made a poor decision without regarding the risks. That is not an accident. The terms crash and collision are interchangeable – when two vehicles or objects collide, there’s a crash. Both of these terms imply fault and give a better understanding of the events – one person is liable for damages.

An example of a car crash would be

  • if a driver is texting while driving
  • if a driver is speeding
  • if a driver fails to yield at a stop sign
  • if a driver changes lanes without looking around for other cars
  • if a driver is operating a vehicle while fatigued
  • if a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • if a driver is failing to drive safely on icy roads

All of these actions can be prevented.

Should I Say Car Crash or Car Accident?

CSP is asking Coloradans to start using the terms “crash” or “collision” instead of “accident”. If we can change our perspective about why car crashes occur, instead of pretending the act was unavoidable, we can become more aware of our actions and possibly prevent future crashes.

The choice of words can have a strong impact on your case. When you label the event as a car accident, you fail to properly recognize the responsible party. A car crash should not be taken lightly, and the term accident down plays the incident. Use the term ‘crash’, not ‘accident’, when appropriate.

If you are suffering and are paying for someone else’s mistake, you should take legal action. At McDivitt Law Firm, we are here to help you deal with the legal aspects of a car crash so that you can focus on recovering. We will assist you in recognizing who is at fault for the crash as you recover from a traumatic experience. Contact our experienced car crash lawyers for a free case consultation.

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