A car accident can happen to anyone in virtually any situation. Understanding the cause of the accident is essential to deciding who is liable for it, but the type of accident can also be relevant to a claim. This may affect the scope and nature of the victim’s injuries, which determine how much their claim is worth. Certain types of accidents also lead to assumptions about who may have been at fault, which you may need to take into account if you are bringing a claim. This is an overview of how accidents may be classified, depending on the type of impact, the type of driver, and the type of vehicle involved.
Type of Impact
Accidents can be classified as head-on collisions, rear-end collisions, or side-impact accidents. Head-on collisions often happen when someone travels the wrong way down a one-way street or an exit ramp, or when they cross the median on a highway. These are some of the most devastating and potentially fatal types of accidents, but they are also some of the least common. Fault is usually clear because one of the drivers was traveling in the wrong direction.
Rear-end collisions are much more common but can be less damaging because they tend to occur at lower speeds. The rear driver is often presumed to be at fault for not leaving an adequate stopping distance, but this is not always the case. Side-impact accidents may result when one vehicle fails to yield to another vehicle at an intersection. Since the side of a car has less structural protection, people in the car that is broadsided may suffer especially serious injuries.
Some accidents on highways or other major roads may involve multiple vehicles when one vehicle pushes another vehicle into a third vehicle in a type of domino effect. These chain reaction accidents may require a thorough investigation to determine who was at fault. Often, more than one party was at fault, resulting in more complicated litigation than an ordinary car accident case. At the opposite end of the spectrum are single-vehicle accidents like rollovers, which are usually the fault of either the driver or a defect in the car.
Type of Driver
Getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage for many teenagers as they become adults, but these young drivers are particularly prone to causing accidents. Teen driver accidents may result when a teenager is overconfident in their abilities, lacking in experience, or distracted by a cell phone or other forms of technology. Meanwhile, elderly drivers may no longer have the alertness and reaction time needed to drive safely, even if they have held a license for decades. Victims should not hold back from bringing a claim against an elderly person who was at fault for an accident, since their insurance likely will pay any compensation award.
Other types of drivers may place accident victims in unnecessarily hazardous positions because of reckless or misguided decisions. Drivers who leave the scene of an accident may be charged with a crime, but hit and run victims often have limited recourse against them. A victim may need to bring a first-party claim against their own insurer if the driver is not identified. This type of claim also may be appropriate when an at-fault driver has no insurance or insufficient insurance to cover a victim’s injuries. Uninsured or underinsured motorist claims may be just as contested as third-party claims, despite the contractual relationship between the insurer and the policyholder.
Type of Vehicle
Cases involving certain distinctive types of vehicles may differ from ordinary car accident cases. If you have been injured while riding with an Uber or Lyft driver, you may be able to make a claim against the ridesharing company’s insurance. You likely would not have this option if you were injured in a taxi accident, so you would need to rely on the individual driver’s insurance and possibly use your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to supplement it.
Personal injury law has not yet caught up to the technology of self-driving vehicles, so a victim’s legal options in these cases are less clear. They may have recourse against the person controlling the car or the manufacturer. By contrast, people who have been injured in a car accident caused by someone on the job may be able to seek damages from not only the driver but also their employer, regardless of whether the employer was at fault.