What's The Difference In Meaning Between A Car Crash And An Accident?

Updated October, 2020
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A crash is any incident where the vehicle runs into something and there's usually someone at-fault. An accident is when the driver wasn't intentional in their actions. However, there can be overlap between the two events. For example, losing control of your car and hitting a pole is a crash since your car collided with another force, but it's also an accident since it wasn't an intentional collision.

Crash Vs. Accident—More different than you think

It's very rare for a car crash to be an accident. Usually someone is at-fault. Whether someone is malicious and runs into someone on purpose or the person at-fault was distracted by their own actions, they're usually to blame for the whole collision. When most people use the term "accident" to refer to car crashes, they actually mean it was preventable. Most crashes are preventable, but hardly any are true accidents.

Here's why car insurance companies prefer using one over the other

Insurance companies prefer to use the word "accident" when their client is at-fault. The word sounds less harsh as "crash" and paints their client as a person who did nothing wrong. In a court case the way things are spoken can influence how the jury thinks of you. Harsher words like "crash" can sound like the driver did something malicious. Words like "accident" make it sound like it was out of the drivers control. These little distinctions can sway your court case in big ways.

Are all accidents and crashes preventable?

Not all accidents are totally preventable. Proper maintenance of your car and defensive driving can prevent most accidents and crashes, but sometimes there's nothing that can be done.

Preventable accidents

Preventable accidents occur when someone is not a very skilled driver or an event happens that's beyond the drivers control. Here are some examples:

  • Driver's reaction time is too slow
  • Not taking a turn at the proper angle
  • Someone hitting you when you don't move out of the way in time.

Preventable crashes

These are the majority of "accidents" on the road. These crashes occur because someone wasn't following the rules of the road. Here are some examples:

  • Running a red light
  • Driving a car that has bald tires or bad brakes
  • Putting on make up or eating while driving

5 steps to take after a car accident

The most important thing to do after an accident is never admit fault. No matter how rattled or scared you are, don't admit fault. Admitting fault puts you on the hook for all the damages.

  1. Check for injuries you & other passengers. Take care of yourself and you passengers first.
  1. Contact the police. A police report is needed for insurance claims. Don't let someone talk you into not calling the police.
  1. Exchange information. Make sure you get their full name, insurance provider, policy number, and model of car.
  1. Take photos. Document the damage for evidence in court.
  1. Call your insurance provider. Give them all the information and the police report number.

Is my insurance good enough to protect me in an accident?

If you're not sure, consider comparing different insurance providers to your own to find out who's able to provide you with the level of protection you need. Don't get caught on unprepared in the life-altering car accident.

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