What Are the Most Common Types of Motor Vehicle Accidents?

What Are the Most Common Types of Motor Vehicle Accidents

Millions of motor vehicle accidents happen every year in the United States. Many of them cause severe and fatal injuries, for which crash victims deserve financial compensation.

Let’s review the most common types of motor vehicle accidents and how a skilled attorney can secure money damages for individuals who suffer harm in them.

The Most Common Types of Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents take many forms. But no matter where they occur or what types of vehicles they involve, most crashes share two common characteristics: 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 motor vehicle accidents.

Rear-End Collisions

Around 1.7 million rear-end collisions happen annually in the United States, making them the most common type of motor vehicle accident. Most commonly, rear-end crashes happen because the driver of the trailing vehicle fails to slow or stop in time to avoid a collision with the leading one. Drivers often cause these accidents by speeding or becoming distracted behind the wheel.

Although they have a reputation as being minor fender benders, rear-end accidents can saddle victims with 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 show immediate symptoms but can seriously disrupt your life without 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 signal or fails to pay attention to crossing traffic, but can also result from poor road design that confuses motorists.

Side impact accidents can inflict catastrophic injuries to crash victims, including devastating spinal cord injuries and brain trauma. Occupants of the vehicle struck broadside frequently sustain the most severe harm. The safety features of most motor vehicles fail to protect drivers and passengers as effectively against the angular, twisting forces of a side impact as against those involved in a frontal crash.

Head-on Collisions

Head-on crashes, in which vehicles collide front-to-front, are not as common as rear-ends and side impacts. But 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 crushed or traumatically amputated limbs and vital organ damage.

Sideswipe Accidents

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. They 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 centerline or towards vehicles parallel parked along a sidewalk.

Insofar as 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 a vehicle into an oncoming lane where a head-on collision can occur.

Single-Vehicle Accidents

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 involve collisions with a fixed object, such as a tree, roadside ditch, or telephone pole. And about half involve collisions with non-fixed objects, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and parked motor vehicles. Rollover accidents account for a small percentage of those crashes also.

Single vehicle accidents hold the potential to 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.

Common Vehicle-Specific Accidents

The five types of accidents discussed above describe the general ways motor vehicles can crash. 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 consists of cars, trucks, and buses turning left into their paths. According to 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 cut 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 trailing 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. It’s 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. They can also happen on slippery roads where a truck and trailer suddenly become unaligned.

Regardless of what causes a jackknife, it results in extremely dangerous situations. 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. Jackknife accidents commonly cause widespread property damage and severe injuries to occupants of vehicles in the out-of-control truck’s path.

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 susceptible to rolling over. Many of these accidents result in fatal injuries to drivers and other vehicle occupants.

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

What Are the Most Common Types of Motor Vehicle AccidentsAs we have described, human error plays a role in causing most motor vehicle accidents. Accordingly, injured accident victims generally have a legal right to seek compensation for their losses. So do the surviving spouses and family members of victims of fatal motor vehicle accidents.

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 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 truck accident 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 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 design, build, or 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 can owe financial compensation to an injured victim. A skilled lawyer can identify them 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.

But it generally includes payment 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 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;
  • Victims’ pain, suffering, inconvenience, loss of independence, and diminished quality of life.

In some cases, 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.

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

Scott R. Melton is a Car Accident Lawyer near Grand Rapids, MI area
Scott R. Melton, Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer in Grand Rapids, MI

You have no time to lose to protect your rights after a motor vehicle accident. 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. Conversely, if you wait too long to retain an experienced attorney, you could lose your rights to compensation altogether.

A lawyer will meet with you free of charge to discuss your motor vehicle accident and your options for seeking compensation. Any lawyer you decide to hire will also most likely agree to represent you on a contingent fee basis. That’s an arrangement where the lawyer only gets paid if you do—you pay no fees upfront or as the case proceeds.

If you or someone you love sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident, you have valuable rights to protect. To learn more about securing compensation, contact an experienced car accident lawyer today.