What Are the 6 Most Common Types of Car Accidents That Result in Legal Claims?

What Are the 6 Most Common Types of Car Accidents That Result in Legal Claims?

Car accidents are unfortunate, and no two accidents are the same. Minor fender benders, catastrophic multi-vehicle collisions, and other types of collisions involve unique challenges and legal implications.

Understanding the differences between car accidents is crucial for navigating the aftermath of a crash. Your car accident lawyer can determine fault, assess damages, and pursue legal action for you.

4 Common Causes of Car Accidents

Driver error, vehicle malfunction, road conditions, or environmental factors cause most car accidents. Some cases may involve several factors. Your attorney can review the evidence, gather documentation, and determine how these factors affect your legal claim.

Lawyer for Car Accident in Austin, TX

Driver Negligence

The National Highway Traffic Administration reports that driver error accounts for 94 percent of all car crashes in the United States.

Accidents may be caused by:

  • Speeding: According to the National Safety Council, speeding drivers caused more than 12,000 traffic fatalities in one recent year. Regardless of road conditions, speeding greatly increases the risk of a collision and the potential severity of the resulting injuries.
  • Distracted driving: Inattentive drivers caused more than 3,500 fatal crashes in one recent year. Texting, talking on your phone, or engaging in other distracting behaviors while driving significantly impairs your ability to react to changing road conditions and situations.
  • Driving under the influence: Alcohol and drug impairment can severely hinder your ability to operate a vehicle safely, resulting in disastrous consequences. Drunk drivers caused accidents resulting in the death of more than 13,000 people in one recent year.

After an accident, an experienced attorney can gather and review the evidence necessary to prove whether it resulted from driver negligence.

Mechanical Failure

Vehicle defects and malfunctions can cause accidents, especially if they affect essential components, such as brakes, tires, or steering systems. You can hold the vehicle manufacturer or another third party responsible in these instances.

Your state's laws regarding manufacturer liability, the vehicle's maintenance history, and other complex factors affect the outcome of mechanical failure lawsuits. Your attorney can identify the responsible party and explain the appropriate legal action for your situation.

Poor Road Conditions

Poorly maintained roads, inadequate signage, and unsafe construction zones can contribute to accidents. To pursue legal action, you need to prove poor road conditions caused the accident and that this was due to the negligence of a third party.

In some states, you can file a claim against the Department of Transportation if it was aware of a hazard, did not fix it within the appropriate amount of time, and this hazard contributed to a car accident. Your lawyer will understand state-specific laws and determine your eligibility to claim compensation if bad road conditions caused your accident.

Adverse weather, such as rain, snow, or fog, can create hazardous driving conditions and increase the likelihood of a car accident. An attorney can assess whether the weather contributed significantly and whether one or both parties involved failed to adjust their driving behavior accordingly.

The 6 Most Common Types of Car Accidents

The typical injuries and legal ramifications may vary depending on the type of accident. Understanding the differences between common types of collisions allows you to navigate the accident aftermath and consider legal action.

Rear-End Collisions

The National Safety Council estimates that nearly 18 percent of all crashes involve rear-end collisions. Rear-end collisions occur when a vehicle crashes into the back of another vehicle. Typical causes include tailgating, distracted driving, and sudden stops in heavy traffic.

Whiplash, head trauma, and spinal injuries are common in this type of collision. Vehicle damage may include minor dents, severe issues requiring extensive repairs, or total vehicle replacement.

The driver who rear-ends another vehicle is usually at fault due to negligence or failure to maintain a safe following distance. Your attorney can assess other factors that may impact liability, such as whether you live in a no-fault state and whether vehicle malfunctions or driver behavior played a role in the collision.

Head-On Collisions

Head-on collisions occur when the front ends of two vehicles collide. Distracted or impaired driving and unsafe lane changes are typical causes of these types of accidents. They're more common than rear-end collisions, accounting for nearly 30 percent of all vehicle-to-vehicle crashes.

Head-on collisions frequently result in severe injuries, including traumatic brain injuries and damage to the spinal cord or internal organs. Vehicle damage can be extensive, frequently resulting in a total loss.

Determining liability in head-on collisions is rarely straightforward, as both drivers' actions may have been contributing factors. Your attorney will gather evidence to establish fault and help you seek appropriate compensation.

Side-Impact Collisions

Side-impact collisions, or T-bone collisions, occur when one vehicle impacts the side of another. Common causes include failing to yield, running a red light or stop sign, or making an improper turn.

Injuries from side-impact collisions can vary but may include head and neck trauma, broken bones, or internal injuries. Vehicle damage can be significant, often requiring extensive repair work or resulting in a total loss.

Establishing liability in side-impact collisions is complex. It may require a thorough investigation by your attorney, including gathering witness statements, reviewing traffic cameras, and analyzing the accident scene.

Sideswipe Accidents

These occur when two vehicles traveling parallel to each other make contact, typically when one driver attempts to change lanes without ensuring the adjacent lane is clear.

While injuries from sideswipe accidents tend to be less severe than other types of collisions, they can still lead to whiplash, bruises, and broken bones. Vehicle damage can involve minor scrapes or significant structural damage.

Determining liability for sideswipe accidents can be difficult, as both drivers may bear responsibility. Your attorney can help establish fault by gathering evidence and reconstructing the accident.


Rollover accidents involve a vehicle flipping onto its side or roof. This type of accident can result from sharp turns at high speeds, tire blowouts, and collisions with other vehicles or obstacles.

Rollover accidents often cause severe injuries, including head and spinal trauma, broken bones, or death. Vehicles frequently sustain extensive damage or are written off as a loss.

Establishing liability in rollover accidents can be challenging because driver negligence, vehicle defects, and road conditions may all play a role. Determining the contributing factors is crucial to pursue appropriate compensation, and your lawyer will know what data and documentation to collect to support your case.

Multi-Vehicle Accidents

Multi-vehicle accidents, or pile-ups, involve three or more vehicles colliding in a chain reaction. These accidents often occur in heavy traffic or during poor visibility conditions, such as fog or heavy rain.

Injuries in multi-vehicle accidents may be minor, severe, or fatal, depending on the forces involved. Extensive vehicle damage may be present due to multiple points of impact and the potential for secondary collisions.

Multi-vehicle accidents can present difficult liability issues because the actions of multiple drivers may have contributed to the crash. An experienced personal injury attorney will untangle the web of liability and pursue appropriate compensation depending on their findings.

Navigating the legal aspects of a car accident is often daunting. It helps to understand the basics, such as police reports and insurance coverage, but an experienced car accident lawyer can guide you through the legal process and craft a strong, evidence-based case.

Police Reports and Investigations

Most jurisdictions require the police to file a report after a crash. These statements contain key details regarding the accident, including an indication of who is at fault and any potential liability. Your attorney can use this report to build your personal injury case. If they discover incomplete facts or skewed evidence, it may necessitate further investigation.

The process for obtaining a copy of the police report depends on your jurisdiction. It may involve contacting your local or state law enforcement agency, the state's Department of Transportation, or the Department of Motor Vehicles. You may also need to pay a nominal fee.

Witness Statements

Witness statements provide an objective perspective of the events leading up to and during the accident. These accounts can help your attorney build a strong case for your personal injury claim.

Your attorney may contact witnesses to obtain statements and ensure their accounts are accurate and reliable. This usually involves conducting interviews, obtaining written affidavits, and subpoenaing witnesses to testify in court. Both parties will likely seek witnesses to support their case.

Insurance Coverage

The insurance coverage of those involved in the accident will determine the appropriate legal strategy. A thorough understanding of your policy and the other driver's coverage allows your attorney to navigate the claims process and seek appropriate compensation.

Insurance coverage typically depends on whether the accident occurred in an at-fault or no-fault state. Drivers in at-fault states typically hold the required liability coverage, and your attorney will file a claim against their insurance company. Motorists in no-fault states usually have the necessary personal injury protection insurance, and if a crash occurs, you'll need to file a claim against your own insurance company regardless of fault.

Other types of insurance policies, such as uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, may also affect your compensation claim.

Comparative or Contributory Negligence

Comparative and contributory negligence are legal doctrines that determine the degree of fault of each party involved in an accident. They may follow a 50 percent rule, use a sliding scale, or rely on pure contributory negligence principles. Always talk to an attorney, as they can assess your situation and help you navigate the applicable laws.

Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations specifies how much time you have to file a personal injury claim following a car accident. The court may dismiss your case if you fail to file your claim within this period.

The statute of limitations varies depending on the jurisdiction and type of claim. Your attorney will determine the applicable deadline for your case and potential exceptions, ensuring that you do not miss the opportunity to seek compensation.

Damages in Car Accident Personal Injury Claims

The types of damages you are eligible to seek will depend on your situation.

The most common damages resulting from car accidents include:

  • Medical expenses: This refers to costs resulting from treatments, emergency room visits, surgeries, rehabilitation, and ongoing care.
  • Lost earnings: You may be eligible to recover damages due to missed work or a reduced earning capacity resulting from the car accident.
  • Pain and suffering: This covers compensation for any physical and emotional distress you experience because of the car accident. Emotional distress can be significant and may result in long-lasting conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Loss of consortium: This includes the loss of companionship, affection, and intimacy resulting from accident-related injuries. It usually applies to the injured party's spouse or family members.

An experienced personal injury attorney can help you establish the types of damages that apply to your case and help you seek compensation for them.

3 Factors Affecting Damage Awards

The following three factors can also affect the compensation you may recover in a car accident lawsuit:

  • The severity of your injuries: More severe injuries usually result in higher medical expenses, cause more pain and suffering, and have longer-lasting consequences.
  • The extent of property damage: The degree of damage, particularly to your vehicle, can impact the compensation you can seek.
  • The impact on your life: Your ability to work, engage in hobbies, and maintain relationships may affect the compensation you can seek.

Every situation is unique, and these factors determine the nature and outcome of your personal injury claim. Your attorney will help you build a comprehensive account documenting how the accident affected your life.

Work With an Attorney to Seek the Justice You Deserve

Gage Fletcher, Car Accident Lawyer in Austin, Texas
Gage Fletcher, Car Accident Lawyer in Austin, Texas

The various types of car accidents and the intricacies of personal injury law that apply to these situations are complex. Negotiating a claim can involve numerous government agencies and multiple areas of law.

Consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Austin at Fletcher Law allows you to navigate the legal landscape confidently. You can seek the compensation you deserve without facing the challenge alone. A knowledgeable attorney can tackle the legal aspects while you focus on your recovery.