Should we stop talking about car 'accidents'?

The English language is constantly changing and evolving, reflecting the changes in our lives as the years pass. Usually we don’t give much thought to the words we choose. But at the same time, when we use a certain word to describe a situation, it could affect how we think about what we are talking about.

For example, most of the time, news reports usually refer to one motor vehicle crashing into another as a “car accident.” But was it really an accident? Of course, few crashes are the result of a driver purposely ramming somebody else. But in civil law, negligence is less than purposeful action, but still enough to hold someone responsible for injuries others suffered in the wreck.

Thus, calling a serious auto collision an “accident” is arguable misleading. It implies that nobody is responsible for what happened. Surely, a drunk or distracted driver who hits somebody did not specifically mean for the crash to happen. But their actions fell beneath the duty of care they owed other people on the road, and they are liable for their victims’ financial damages.

Indeed, only about 6 percent of crashes are the result of forces beyond anyone’s control, such as sudden mechanical problems and severe weather, The New York Times reports. This is why many safety advocates are calling for an end to the term “car accident.”

They say that one reason fatal car wrecks continue to be a growing problem in the U.S. is that the public is relatively apathetic about it. And one reason for that is that calling them “accidents” suggests, perhaps subconsciously, that nothing can be done to stop them.

Whatever term you use to describe your wreck, the injuries you suffered could be terribly painful and long-lasting. You deserve compensation from the parties that injuries.

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