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Accident vs. Collision: What’s the Difference?

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Are “accidents” And “collisions” The Same Thing?

The short answer: no. Accident implies there’s no one to blame whereas collision can imply that someone is at fault.

This is a bit subjective though and it really depends on who you talk to. It may just seem like a grammatical issue or maybe even a personal vocabulary preference, but the way you use the words carries a lot of weight in your insurance case. Crash connotates fault whereas accident connotates no one is at fault. Collision is the correct legal term used in state statutes.

Understanding what each word means is crucial whether you’ve been involved in some sort of vehicular incident or just to know for future reference in the off chance something happens. It’s a conversation that’s been going on for a long time – just look at this abstract from 2002 where the author insists an axing of the term “accident”. Even the Associated Press (AP) favors “crash” over “accident”. So, which term should you be using to describe your personal injury incident?

Why Does it Matter?

Insurance companies are more prone to use the term “accident” because it lowers the responsibility factor. It implies that someone was not at fault – namely their insured and so this is an attempt to minimize their responsibility to take care of you and your losses.

“Collision”, on the other hand, is a bit more unbiased and stoic description of the incident. That’s why experts who look at these types of situations will often refer to themselves as “collision reconstructionists” instead of “accident reconstructionists”. Government agencies as well are trying to distance themselves from the term “accident”, drafting laws with the term “collision” instead. We’re still largely dealing with semantics here, but they’re semantics that can reframe an incident – at least in terms of insurance and public perception.

How Will It Impact My Case?

In the end, your case is going to be determined by the evidence, witness accounts, and your legal representation. “Collision” is technically the most accurate term to use when vehicles collide, but there may be times with your insurance that you want to use “accident”. We use the term accident across our website because it’s a much more ubiquitous term. However, it’s fairly arbitrary. What matters most is making sure you’re protected and are getting the support you need in the legal system.

At Elsner Law Firm, that’s exactly what we do. Our job is to hear your story, gather the details, and see if we can make a case for you. Automotive accidents (or collisions) are a stressful and often painful time. We want to make the entire process easier on you, regardless of whatever semantics are being debated. Need help with your personal injury case? Give us a call or text us today.

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