Auto accidents are known by many names – wrecks, crashes, fender benders, personal injury collisions, road traffic accident, car collisions, car accidents, road traffic incidents, or any one of several other versions of vehicles slamming into one another. No matter what they are called, they often result in serious personal injury or death. Vehicular accidents have been around since time immemorial, and they have gotten more serious over time. Auto accidents kill at least 1.2 million people a year globally and leave about 40 times that number injured.
While most Americans use the term accident to indicate that they have been in a wreck of some sort, there are some that feel the term accident is misleading, as it suggests the “incident” was unpredictable and also could not have been prevented. Most crashes are not only predictable, but could have been prevented, but for the negligence of another driver. In fact, many studies have shown that driver error, driving while under the influence and other human factors are typically responsible in whole or in part for roughly 93 percent of all crashes.
Those human factors may also include the negligence of another working on a vehicle, loading a vehicle, driving the vehicle, borrowing the vehicle, failing to properly maintain the vehicle or involve defective parts. Crashes can happen at any time, any place, for hundreds of reasons, ranging from texting while driving to taking GPS instructions literally without checking their accuracy, from driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol to reaching down to pick up something on the floor of the vehicle.
Depending on the facts of the car crash, one or both drivers may be cited criminally, may be sued civilly, or both. In cases where someone dies, a state will typically prosecute the criminally negligent driver. Those charges may involve driving without due care and attention, assault with a deadly weapon, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or murder.
In the United States, auto accident personal injury lawsuits are a very common tort, in which courts usually deal with questions of fact – such as who was at fault for the accident in question, what percentage was each driver at fault and how much is to be paid out in damages.