Accident – The Modern Day “A Word”
Insurance company advertisements boldly tell you that they are there for you if you’re in an accident. The defense attorneys who these insurance companies employ to defend their insureds in court talk to jurors about “this accident.” All we hear from the insurance and defense industries are: Accident, Accident, Accident.
Now why do you think that is?
Is not paying attention to the road and smashing into a car ahead of a driver an accident? Is getting drunk and driving a car into the back of a minivan an accident? If someone is texting and driving and runs a red light is it proper to call the resulting mayhem an accident? What about simply having a conversation with someone in your car and not paying attention to the upcoming stop sign an accident?
Driving is probably the most dangerous thing that we do each day unless your job involves butchering large cow carcasses with a giant buzz saw for 8 hours a day.
Most passenger vehicles are somewhere between 3,000 lbs. (a Prius) to almost 6,000 lbs. (a Suburban) and comprised of steel. Combine this with speeds of up to 80 miles per hour and you have a real danger.
We as a society, a community, have come up with safety rules that are meant to be followed to prevent serious injury and death to anyone on our roadways including folks using the streets of our neighborhoods and communities like people on bicycles, or folks using the crosswalks and sidewalks.
When drivers ignore these important driver safety rules, very bad things can happen to them and to others. Broken bones, paralysis, injuries needing around the clock care, and ultimately death – a person’s life can be ruined in a split second. The driver safety rules that we all know about even before we were licensed to drive are there to prevent wrecks and crashes that kill and maim over 250,000 Texans a year.
So, is there a difference between calling something an accident versus calling it a wreck, a collision, or a crash?
The reason that insurance companies and their defense lawyers use the word accident is because it implies that no one was at fault. “Hey, it’s just an accident. And we all know that [say it in unison folks] accidents happen. It’s no one’s fault!”
The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) issues a CR-3 Report for Texas Law Enforcement to use when investigating traffic collisions. The form used to have the title “Texas Peace Officer’s Accident Report” at the top of the form. However, about 10 years ago, TXDOT changed the nomenclature from “Accident Report” to “Crash Report” because the term accident did not communicate the importance of the fact that these wrecks that our law enforcement officers investigate are PREVENTABLE.
Words matter. The next time you hear someone use the word accident, think about if a simple safety rule, if followed and not ignored, would have prevented the “accident.” And if you hear an insurance carrier advertisement or one of their defense lawyers use the term accident, let them know that words matter, and let them know that you’re not stupid and they can’t pull the wool over your eyes.