Car accidents aren't accidents

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As a plaintiff’s personal injury attorney, I absolutely NEVER use the word “accident” - I use “collision”. As the story says, “accident” implies lack of fault. I have argued this point endlessly with judges and insurance company agents [and even other plaintiff’s attorneys], who refuse to stop using “accident” to describe a motor vehicle coming into contact with another object, i.e., another motor vehicle, a bicycle, a pedestrian or a stationary object [tree, guardrail, telephone pole]. At trial I always talk to the jury about the “collision” and always object when opposing describes it as an “accident”.


I agree most “accidents” are preventable with simply paying attention and driving cautiously.

However, not every bike/car collision is the fault of the car driver either, but I have never seen a bicyclist admit that.




Uh, murder? If you’re calling them murder, I don’t think you’ll get very far, since that’s a pretty specific thing, as far as killing people goes…

It felt to me like the NYPD was on the side of the driver, and was shrugging off our daughter’s death as just another misfortune.
For me this is a very specific US thing (like jaywalking laws) - other jurisdictions (quite sure about the EU, I know it for Germany) have the concept of giving the driver (partly) responsibility for every harm done to other persons (with the exception of gross negligence and force majeure).

I’ sorry for his loss, but I’m not sure using crash instead of accident changes the bizarre (for me) US opinion on traffic liability.


In the fall and winter months it is completely dark when I drive to work in the mornings. I cannot even count the number of cyclists that I have encountered dressed in dark colors with no lights, no reflectors. Sometimes I don’t see these people until I am literally two feet away from them. I think many cyclists would be shocked at how close they have come to death because people simply did not see them. I live in a community with a lot of bicyclists and I don’t think I have ever seen a bicycle stop at a stop sign, ever. So I’m not saying that every “accident” is the cyclists fault, but, I just don’t think that cyclists fully appreciate how invisible they really are.


Nice, the post count is still in the single digit range and the discussion drifts from “girl was killed by a driver though she had right of way” to “but the cyclists are even worse”.


If you start to watch closely, you’ll find that almost everyone is pushing the limits - drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Even something as simple as gridlock has contributions from all three. Drivers regularly enter intersections even when it is clearly likely they won’t be able to leave it before the light goes red. Cyclists come up on the right side of drivers who are turning right, and roll past them at speed, when they should stop and wait behind a turning vehicle. Pedestrians regularly head out into intersections long after the signal has changed from “walk” to a flashing “no walk”.

These are all violations of the Highway Traffic Act in Ontario. Having to deal with everyone around you pushing the limits reduces everyone’s respect for all the other road users, and nobody wants to give way to anybody else.

You’re right that those are not “accidents”. The Ontario Provincial Police have a strict policy that those are “collisions”, and that is how I always see them report the events. It seems the use of the word “accident” is much higher among the general public than it is among the police. The attitude does need to shift, but it’s a far larger shift than just the police and courts.


Exactly. All road users break the law pretty much all the time, but pedestrians and cyclists (with some very rare exceptions) aren’t killing people.


Seriously, I can’t believe there are auto-chauvinists.


It’s actually about ethics in bicycle reporting.


Are the rules of the road that different in the US ? In Ireland if a car is turning left the car driver has to stop and wait for the traffic on the inside lane as it has right of way.

That doesn’t mean that many drivers don’t know that, or at least follow the rules.

I agree whole-heartedly, and am especially appalled that there’s resistance to the reclassification of “accidents”, but I would add one thing: not only should be classify accidents as crashes, we should permanently remove people’s driving license when they’ve become demonstrably unfit to drive. For me, that’s after one crash under the influence of alcohol or drugs or while using a phone.



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I’m a cyclist and I’ll admit it. In some collisions, cyclists are at fault. Many cyclists have pretty poor risk awareness and break the road rules at a similar rate to car drivers. It’s plus and minus; e.g. cyclists run more red lights, but speed less often (car drivers speed pretty much all the time unless impeded by corners or other motorists - strangely, they don’t see this as dangerous). And nobody, cyclist nor motorist, stops at stop signs unless forced to by other vehicles. Ever.

But I’ve also yet to hear of a cyclist killing a car driver in a collision.


That’s exactly correct. Bicyclists don’t stand a chance against a car. That’s why cyclists should always give the right of way to an auto. Law aside, it just makes good sense if you are concerned for your safety.


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The police call them incidents, not accidents, I think. Specifically because accident implies lack of blame.

Edit: of course, I got that from Hot Fuzz, but I think it’s true.


this, a thousand times this. I drive a car all the time, and every time I get in it I recognize that I will be steering a one-ton hunk of metal in close proximity to other people, some of whom arent shielded by their own crash resistant bunkers.