What’s the Difference Between Crash and Accident?

Portland Personal Injury Lawyers: Questions and Answers

Q: What’s the difference between crash and accident when discussing a Portland personal injury case?

oregon car crash lawyer, portland auto injury attorneyA: When discussing a personal injury, the difference between the words “crash” and “accident” can have a big impact on your case. But the definitions are not that different according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary

  • Accident: an unfortunate event resulting especially from carelessness or ignorance
  • Crash: a breaking to pieces by or as if by collision

Insurance companies love to talk about “accidents,” because that word implies that your injury was nobody’s fault. Insurance company lawyers like to use the word “accident” because they hope the jury will start to believe that the “accident” was not anybody’s fault.

But the truth is that most auto “accidents” ARE someone’s fault – someone did something wrong and they should be held accountable by paying for damages through their insurance. This is why we are required to have auto insurance in Portland, so that when we cause a crash there is money available for damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and property losses.

In casual conversation, we call them “accidents” too, because that’s how people talk. But when we’re talking to a jury, or an insurance adjuster, we prefer to call them “car crashes” or “wrecks,” or “collisions,” because it turns out that, usually, they were somebody’s fault. When we are talking among friends, this language does not matter much. But when we are in front of a jury, the choice of words can matter a lot. If you have been in a collision, you might start noticing that you get different reactions from people if you call it a “crash” than if you call it an “accident.” And this can make a difference to your eventual settlement.

Using the word “crash,” “collision,” or “wreck” is a lot more accurate. First of all, these words imply fault. Second, they give a better understand of the actual events. A car “accident” could be many things, like a teenager running over a curb, or even someone spilling coffee inside a car. Technically, these are “accidents.” But a crash, wreck, or collision implies that one vehicle came into contact with another and that one person is liable for the damages. Determining liability in a Portland car crash can be difficult, but using the right verbiage can really help everyone involved understand the implications of fault in an auto collision.

So while using the word accident does not matter when we are talking to friends, it is important to avoid this word when talking to adjusters so that they understand you know the difference and the accountability involved in a car wreck. And then, if you ever go to trial, you’ll recognize that the words we use to describe car crashes really matter to the jury’s understanding as well.