What Are the Most Common Types of Motor Vehicle Accidents?
April 10, 2023
Millions of motor vehicle accidents happen every year in the United States. Many of the collisions result in severe or fatal injuries. When the other driver was at fault for the crash, these crash victims are entitled to financial compensation.
Let’s review the most common types of motor vehicle accidents and how a skilled car accident attorney can help seek money damages for individuals who suffer harm.
The Most Common Types of Motor Vehicle Accidents
No matter where a motor vehicle occurs or what types of vehicles it involves, it most likely has a human error-related cause and the potential to cause severe harm. Here is a review of the most common types of these preventable, dangerous incidents.
Around 1.7 million rear-end collisions happen annually in the United States, making them the most common type of motor vehicle accident. Rear-end crashes generally happen because the driver of the trailing vehicle fails to slow or stop in time to avoid a collision with the leading vehicle, often because the trailing driver was speeding, following too close, or was distracted behind the wheel.
Although they are usually seen as minor fender benders, rear-end accidents can cause severe trauma and expense. Always consult with a trained medical professional after getting into a rear-end accident, even if you think you escaped it without injury. Many common rear-end accident injuries, like concussions or neck and shoulder soft tissue damage (a.k.a. whiplash), may not cause immediate symptoms but will start to cause pain and limitations in the next few days. These kinds of injuries can seriously disrupt your life if you do not receive prompt care.
Side Impact (a.k.a. T-Bone or Angular) Accidents
As the name suggests, a side impact collision occurs when the front of one vehicle collides with the broadside of another. These accidents most commonly occur at intersections. They often happen because a driver ignores a stop sign or signal or fails to pay attention to crossing traffic. These crashes can also result from poor road designs that confuse motorists.
Side impact accidents can inflict catastrophic injuries to crash victims, given the opposing forces at work and the relative lack of protection from the vehicle’s thin side doors. Occupants of the vehicle struck broadside frequently sustain the most severe harm, which can include devastating spinal cord injuries and brain trauma. The safety features of most motor vehicles fail to protect drivers and passengers as effectively against the angular, twisting forces of a side impact compared to those involved in a frontal crash.
Head-on crashes, in which vehicles collide from opposite directions, are not as common as rear-ends and side impacts. Yet, they constitute some of the most violent road accidents because many happen at high speed when a vehicle veers into an oncoming lane or travels in the wrong direction on a limited access highway. Drowsy driving and drunk driving frequently play a role in causing these accidents.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), head-on collisions are the most consistently deadly accidents, accounting for roughly 28.6 percent of multi-vehicle crash fatalities annually. Individuals who survive these accidents can sustain life-altering injuries, including severe orthopedic injuries and vital organ damage.
In a sideswipe accident, the sides of two vehicles make contact. Many sideswipes happen on multi-lane highways or at merges, often due to drivers failing to check their blind spots before changing lanes. These crashes can also occur on roads with one lane running in each direction or on narrow one-way streets when drivers lose focus and allow their vehicles to drift across the center line or towards parallel parked vehicles.
Because sideswipe collisions often involve only a glancing impact between two vehicles, they tend not to cause severe injuries if both drivers stay in control. Unfortunately, many sideswipes trigger a loss of control and lead to secondary accidents resulting in severe injuries and fatalities. For example, a sideswipe can push one vehicle into an oncoming lane where a head-on collision can occur, or could cause a vehicle to leave the roadway or roll over.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), single-vehicle accidents constitute about a third of all crashes annually in the United States. About half of single-vehicle crashes involve collisions with a fixed object, such as a tree, roadside ditch, or telephone pole. The other half of these crashes involve collisions with non-fixed objects, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and parked motor vehicles. Rollover accidents account for a small percentage of these crashes also.
Single vehicle accidents can cause severe injuries and fatalities. Vehicle occupants commonly suffer catastrophic trauma in collisions with fixed objects and rollovers, which can destroy a vehicle in much the same way as head-on and T-bone collisions. Non-fixed object collisions frequently cause significant harm to individuals struck by motor vehicles, who do not have any protection from a much larger vehicle.
Common Vehicle-Specific Accidents
The five types of accidents discussed above describe the general ways most motor vehicles crashes occur. Now let’s take a look at a few common types of accidents that typically involve specific classes of motor vehicles.
Motorcycle Collisions With Left-Turning Vehicles
Experienced motorcyclists know that one of the greatest hazards confronting them on the road is the risk of a car, truck, or bus turning left into their path. According to the NHTSA, 42 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents involve a collision with a left-turning vehicle. Many of these crashes happen at intersections and on roads with left-turn lanes.
Several factors may explain these collisions. Motorcycles have a relatively small profile relative to other vehicles. A driver may not see a motorcycle approaching in an oncoming traffic lane if, for example, it is behind a truck that blocks the driver’s view.
Scientists have also documented a phenomenon known as inattentional blindness that can contribute to collisions between motorcycles and left-turning vehicles. This is a psychological quirk in which a driver’s brain fails to register a motorcycle approaching in plain sight. Researchers believe the driver’s brain may ignore the motorcycle because of its small size relative to other vehicles.
Large Truck Override/Underride Accidents
Large trucks are massive machines, and their cargo trailers have high ground clearance. These features can present hazards for low-profile cars and other small vehicles, which the larger vehicle can run over.
Override accidents—in which a truck runs over a smaller vehicle—can happen when a truck turns across or merges into a lane already occupied by a smaller car. They can also happen when a truck rear-ends a smaller vehicle at high speed. Underride accidents—involving a car becoming trapped under a truck trailer—can also occur when a truck turns or changes lanes, or when a small car rear-ends a truck.
Override and underride accidents frequently destroy smaller vehicles, causing catastrophic and fatal injuries.
Large Truck Jackknife Accidents
Another type of accident unique to big rigs occurs when a cargo trailer folds against the tractor truck towing it like the blade of a pocket knife. This “jackknifing” of truck and trailer can happen when a truck’s brakes fail to slow the momentum of a fully loaded trailer. This can also happen on slippery roads where a truck and trailer suddenly become unaligned.
Regardless of what causes a jackknife, it often results in an extremely dangerous situation. A truck driver loses all control when his tractor-trailer jackknifes. The truck transforms into a runaway bulldozer, sweeping up all vehicles and objects in its path until friction or a collision stops it. The truck and trailer can come to rest blocking the entire road, leading other cars to collide with it due to bad road conditions or poor visibility. Jackknife accidents commonly cause widespread property damage and severe injuries to occupants of other vehicles.
Truck and SUV Rollover Accidents
Box trucks, tractor trailers, and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) have relatively high centers of gravity compared to other cars and trucks. That feature can make them more susceptible to rolling over. Many rollover accidents result in fatal injuries to drivers and other vehicle occupants, particularly if the people in the vehicle are not wearing their seatbelts.
Truck and SUV rollovers often occur on road curves, such as highway on/off ramps, where lateral forces can cause a vehicle to tip. Rollovers can also happen when an SUV turns sharply to avoid a road hazard, or on slippery roads that can cause a vehicle to spin and begin sliding sideways in the direction of travel.
No Matter the Type of Accident, an Experienced Lawyer Can Help
As described above, human error plays a role in causing most motor vehicle accidents. Injured accident victims thus generally have a legal right to seek compensation for their losses. In the tragic case of a fatality from a motor vehicle accident, the surviving spouses and family members of the victim also have a right to compensation.
The most reliable way to obtain compensation for the harm done by a motor vehicle accident is to hire an experienced attorney. The parties at fault for a crash and their insurers will generally work hard to avoid their legal and financial responsibility. Injured victims need someone on their side fighting to hold those parties accountable.
Lawyers Identify Liable Parties
In most motor vehicle accident cases, your lawyer must figure out what happened and who bears the blame. A skilled lawyer can dig into the details and identify the individuals, businesses, and other entities who might owe money damages to an injured victim.
In the typical case, liable parties might include:
- An at-fault motorist who engaged in careless or reckless conduct behind the wheel that led to a crash.
- The owner of the vehicle being driven by the at-fault driver
- The employer of a motorist who triggered an accident while driving a work vehicle.
- The manufacturer of a defective vehicle or vehicle part that caused a crash.
- A bar or restaurant that served alcohol to a minor or obviously intoxicated individual who went on to cause a drunk driving accident.
- A government entity that contributed to the cause of a motor vehicle accident by unreasonably failing to repair and maintain safe roads.
These are just a few examples. Every motor vehicle accident involves a unique set of facts and circumstances for a lawyer to analyze. In many cases, multiple parties may owe financial compensation to an injured victim. A skilled lawyer can identify the liable parties and take the necessary steps to hold them accountable.
Lawyers Pursue Compensation for Motor Vehicle Accident Victims
Having identified the liable parties, lawyers for motor vehicle accident victims take steps to secure financial compensation for the victims’ losses. The amount and type of compensation can vary from case to case.
Lawyers can help you seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses related to treating accident-related injuries;
- The cost of goods and services victims need to help them live with and adapt to their injuries;
- Wages victims do not earn while missing work because of an injury;
- Income victims will not receive in the future because of their injuries;
- The intangible value of the victim’s pain, suffering, inconvenience, loss of independence, and diminished quality of life.
In some states, lawyers can also convince a court to award the victim extra money in the form of punitive damages, which aim to punish the at-fault party’s misconduct. However, punitive damages are not permitted in Michigan.
There are no guarantees of receiving compensation in a motor vehicle accident injury case, but the most reliable way to secure payment for your injuries and losses is to hire an experienced attorney with a strong reputation and a track record of success in motor vehicle accident cases.
Don’t Wait to Contact a Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer
You have no time to lose after a motor vehicle crash if you want to protect your rights. The sooner you hire a skilled lawyer to represent you, the better your chances of receiving sufficient compensation to pay your expenses and recover from your trauma. If you wait too long to retain an experienced attorney, you could lose your rights to compensation altogether.
The experienced auto accident attorneys at Gruel Mills will meet with you free of charge to discuss your motor vehicle accident and your options for seeking compensation. We will represent you on a contingent fee basis, which means you do not have to pay any kind of retainer or hourly fee. Rather, we only get paid if we recover compensation for you.
If you or someone you love sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident, you may have valuable rights to protect. To learn more about the possibility of securing compensation, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at Gruel Mills today.