At our office, we speak daily with the injured victims of car crashes. We counsel our clients as they heal and, hopefully, return to normal life. We’ve seen the tragic harm caused by severe injury. In our cases, we work hard to obtain the maximum compensation possible for our clients. Yet, no amount of money can make up for a life-altering event that leaves a loved one hurting or disabled.
Accident. That’s the word commonly used for cars crashing into each other. We all use that word. Yet, it’s not really an accident when a driver chooses a distraction or dangerous activity over his responsibility on the road. Does anyone think it’s simply an accident when someone chooses to become intoxicated and then drive? Does anyone think it’s simply an accident when someone chooses to text or play with an electronic device while driving? In the dictionary, an accident has been defined as “an unexpected happening” and “not due to any fault or misconduct on the part of the person injured.” By definition, most car crashes are clearly not accidents.
The New York Times recently published an article titled, It’s No Accident: Advocates Want to Speak of Car ‘Crashes’ Instead. According to the article’s author:
Roadway fatalities are soaring at a rate not seen in 50 years, resulting from crashes, collisions and other incidents caused by drivers.
Just don’t call them accidents anymore.
That is the position of a growing number of safety advocates, including grass-roots groups, federal officials and state and local leaders across the country. They are campaigning to change a 100-year-old mentality that they say trivializes the single most common cause of traffic incidents: human error.
Are some incidences truly just accidents and not the result of bad choices? Maybe, a small few. Very few. The article’s author tells us only “about 6 percent are caused by vehicle malfunctions, weather and other factors.” In other words most incidences with vehicles are collisions or crashes rather than simply accidents.
The lawyers in the Blackwell Law Firm made the choice years ago in all court proceedings to call these events what they truly are — crashes or collisions. We believe the word choice is important in court to honor the injured victims. We understand the word “accident” is still typically used by police, insurers, adjusters, and the public, concerning injury claims. Because of that, we still use the word “accident” in some settings outside court. But, we advocate for our clients hurt in car crashes and we hope to impact a change in the word reference. Recently, the State of Nevada passed a law which would actually change “accident” to “crash” in many of the instances where the word was used by the State. New York City has a similar law.
A couple critics have claimed the debate on word usage is unimportant. But, many families of people hurt by distracted drivers, intoxicated drivers or other reckless drivers, often feel different. In their cases, the event was no accident. The event was not simply an occurrence that was nobody’s fault. No. These were crashes. They were crashes caused by the bad choices of another person. They were crashes that greatly impacted the victims and the victims’ families.
As I write this post, our firm attorney Jennifer McKown just settled a case and brought justice to two clients severely injured when a speeding driver distracted by her cellphone, slammed into them from behind. That was no accident. It was a crash caused by a distracted driver.
A Minnesota television station recently aired a report discussing efforts to call these events crashes instead of accidents. The story contains some interesting information and interviews.
Highway safety is an important issue for all drivers. We must work to reduce the rate of car and truck crashes on our roads.