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Types of Car Accidents

Seven Types of Car Accidents—and How They Happen

Any car accident can cause serious injuries: amputations, spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injury, and broken bones. Often, those injuries have lifelong implications. Did you suffer one of these common types of car accidents? Contact a car accident attorney like Flora Templeton Stuart can help you get a better idea of how much compensation you deserve for your injuries.

1. Rear-End Collisions

Rear-end collisions occur when one vehicle strikes another directly in the back. Often, rear-end collisions occur at intersections: the front vehicle stops for a stop sign or red light, but the vehicle in the rear fails to come to a safe stop. These collisions, however, can occur anywhere on the road. Common causes of rear-end collisions include:

  • Following too closely. While rear-end collisions commonly occur at stop signs and red lights, they may also occur on busy roads when the rear car chooses to follow too close to the one in front. When the front car brakes abruptly, the rear vehicle may not have enough time or room to come to a safe stop.
  • Driver distraction. Taking eyes off the road long enough to read a text message, for example, takes an average of 4.6 seconds. During that time, a vehicle may travel nearly the length of a football field: more than enough time for a rear-end collision.
  • Missing or burnt out taillights. In some cases, the driver of the front car may lack adequate tail lights due to a previous accident or a bulb simply burning out. The lack of tail lights can make it difficult for the rear driver to determine when the front driver slows or stops, significantly increasing the risk of an accident.
  • Excessive traffic. In tight traffic, drivers may choose to drive too closely to prevent other cars from cutting in front of their vehicles. Unfortunately, this may substantially raise accident risk.
  • Road rage. In some cases, the rear driver may deliberately strike the car in front due to road rage. Often, the rear driver perceives that the front driver has cut him off or that the front driver’s slow speed prevents him from promptly reaching his destination.

2. T-Bone Accidents

In T-bone accidents, one car strikes the other in the side, creating a “T” shape from the two vehicles. T-bone accidents, also known as side-impact collisions, can cause significant injury for everyone in the vehicle, but particularly those on the side of the vehicle hit directly by the car. T-bone accidents may occur because of:

  • Failure to yield. In some cases, a driver may choose to blaze through an intersection or into traffic without right-of-way. Failing to yield to other traffic can quickly lead to a T-bone collision.
  • Running red lights and stop signs. When a driver proceeds through an intersection without stopping, that car may strike another vehicle in the intersection. The risk of a side-impact collision increases substantially when a driver chooses to run a red light.
  • Failure to look before turning left. Left turns lead to a high percentage of t-bone accidents because drivers fail to pay proper attention to oncoming traffic before making that left turn.
  • Sliding on wet or icy roads. In some cases, drivers may attempt to stop their vehicles, but still end up in a T-bone collision. Wet or icy roads quickly become slippery. A driver traveling at excessive speeds or caught on a slick patch may struggle to stop the vehicle in time, sending him straight into another car.

3. Head-On Collisions

Head-on collisions cause some of the most devastating injuries for drivers and passengers in both vehicles. Many head-on collisions result in death, while others can cause paralysis or traumatic brain injury in the blink of an eye. In a head-on collision, two cars hit one another front end to front end. In head-on collisions, the speed of the two vehicles combines to devastating effect, significantly increasing the force each passenger experiences during the accident.

Head-on collisions often require serious negligence on the part of one or both drivers involved in the accident, including:

  • Driving in the wrong lane. When a driver goes the wrong way down a one-way street, for example, it can significantly increase the odds of a head-on collision.
  • Drifting into oncoming traffic. A head-on collision can occur quickly, often before even the most cautious driver has time to react. Distracted drivers, including those talking on their phones, eating in their vehicles, or chatting with others in their vehicle, have a higher risk of any type of accident, including head-on collisions.
  • Driving under the influence. Drivers who choose to get on the road while under the influence of drugs or alcohol may seriously increase their odds of risky behavior. Inebriated drivers may swerve unpredictably or struggle to keep the car in its assigned lane, significantly increasing the risk of a head-on collision. In one recent year, almost 4,000 drunk driving crashes injured almost 2,000 persons, killing 154, while drugged driving injured almost 1,200 and killed 270. In Warren County alone, 164 drunk driving collisions killed two and injured 62.
  • Altered traffic patterns. During heavy construction or when the road gets blocked off or altered for some reason, drivers may struggle to figure out where they should drive or what happens to their lanes as they proceed through traffic. Construction areas and areas where workers have diverted traffic should receive extra caution from every type of driver.
  • Poor weather conditions. Wet or icy roads may cause vehicles to spin or fly out of control, making it difficult for drivers to navigate safely or control their vehicles. When the vehicle slides into oncoming traffic, the other drivers may struggle to react appropriately or fast enough, significantly increasing the risk of a head-on collision.

4. Rollover Accidents

While rollovers account for only about 2 percent of vehicle accidents, they account for around 35 percent of accident fatalities. Rollover accidents occur when a car literally rolls over, often because it tumbles down an unexpected incline. Rollovers occur more often in single-vehicle accidents; however, they can also occur in multi-vehicle crashes. Common causes of rollover accidents include:

  • Inebriation. Nearly half of fatal vehicle rollovers involve alcohol in some way. When drivers indulge in alcohol, they decrease their response time. Not only that, drunk drivers become more likely to oversteer in response to relatively minor hazards or issues on the road. Avoiding alcohol significantly decreases accident risk, especially the risk of rollover accidents.
  • Excessive speeding. At high rates of speed, when a car “trips” over the edge of the pavement of an unexpected hazard on the road, drivers may struggle significantly more to bring the vehicle back under control. Traveling at or below the posted rate of speed will give drivers more time to react in an accident scenario, decreasing the risk of a rollover accident.
  • Driving on rural roads. Rural roads tend to receive less maintenance and have fewer barriers than roads traveled with higher degrees of frequency. While drivers may not have a choice about driving on rural roads, maintaining awareness of potential drops and other hazards can help keep them safer.
  • Driving an SUV or other top-heavy vehicles. While any vehicle can roll under the right circumstances, some vehicles have a higher likelihood of rollover than others. SUVs and other vehicles with a tall, boxy build may roll more easily than smaller vehicles.

5. Multi-Vehicle Accidents

In some cases, more than two vehicles may suffer damage—and the drivers and passengers injury—in a single accident. Multi-vehicle accidents often occur on highways and interstates, where high rates of traffic often lead drivers to travel closer together. When drivers fail to use proper following distance or travel at excessive rates of speed, a single misstep can quickly transform into a multi-vehicle accident.

Common causes include:

  • Excessive speeds. On many interstates and highways across the country, including in Kentucky, drivers choose to travel above the posted speed limit. Unfortunately, those higher rates of speed can make it more difficult for drivers to react in an accident scenario. Difficulty reacting can, in turn, significantly increase the possibility that multiple vehicles will get involved in an accident.
  • Driving too fast for weather conditions. In poor weather conditions, even the safest drivers may lack the skills to avoid an accident. Once one vehicle slides out of control on ice or snow, others may immediately follow. Not only must cars behind the original car pass over the same wet or icy ground, the drivers in front of that car may struggle to get out of the way fast enough.
  • Negligence or distraction on the part of more than one driver. When drivers check their cell phones or allow other distractions on the road, they rely on other drivers to pay attention to them. Inattention or negligence on the part of multiple drivers can quickly lead to accidents involving several vehicles at once.
  • Intoxication. Intoxicated drivers may have extreme responses to perceived dangers or challenges on the road, causing them to overreact and mistakenly involve multiple vehicles in an accident.

6. Hit and Run Accidents

During a hit and run accident, one driver involved in an accident chooses to flee the scene rather than reporting the accident and waiting for police to arrive. A hit and run can occur in a parking lot or on the road. It may involve two or more vehicles, or a vehicle and a pedestrian or cyclist. Hit and run accidents occur for a variety of reasons:

  • Lack of insurance. In Kentucky, an estimated 11 percent of drivers do not carry auto insurance. An even higher percentage fail to carry adequate insurance. In a panic over an accident, drivers may leave the scene to avoid the repercussions of driving without insurance or the financial repercussions of the accident.
  • Driving without a license. People who have already faced a conviction that led to the loss of a driver’s license may flee the scene of a future accident to prevent further legal repercussions.
  • Fear of repercussion. Young drivers may flee the scene of an accident because they worry about parental response. Older drivers, on the other hand, may fear raised insurance premiums or points on their license as a result of the accident.

7. Sideswipe Collisions

In a sideswipe collision, one vehicle “swipes” against the side of another traveling parallel to it. In a sideswipe collision, often, neither vehicle passengers nor the vehicles themselves suffer significant damage. Sometimes, however, sideswipe collisions may lead to significant damage to both vehicles and passengers. Causes of sideswipe collisions include:

  • Distraction. Distraction can cause one driver to accidentally slide into the lane of another, leading to a sideswipe collision. At a high rate of speed, this can cause significant injury, especially to passengers on the damaged side of the vehicle.
  • Intoxication. Drunk or drugged drivers may struggle to exercise full control over their vehicles. They may struggle to keep the vehicle in the proper lane, drifting into other lanes and causing sideswipe accidents.
  • Cars in blind spots. Most drivers know they must look carefully in their blind spots before changing lanes or turning. Unfortunately, some drivers may have inadequate views of those areas of their vehicles. Drivers who choose to sit too long in another vehicle’s blind spot may significantly increase the risk of a sideswipe collision. Speeding up or slowing down to move out of the vehicle’s blind spot, especially if the driver notes a turn signal, can help keep everyone on the road safer.
  • Merging. When merging, the merging driver must pay careful attention to other vehicles on the road, matching the proper rate of speed and finding an empty spot before moving his vehicle over. Drivers who fail to pay proper attention when merging can cause serious sideswipe accidents.
  • Driving a high-clearance vehicle. Drivers of high-clearance vehicles may assume they have taken necessary steps to check blind spots before merging or changing lanes, but discover after a side-swipe collision that they failed to look down far enough for a smaller vehicle.

Involved in a Car Accident?

Attorney Flora Templeton StuartRegardless of the type of accident you suffered, you will need a car accident attorney to help you file a claim and seek the compensation you deserve. Consider meeting with an attorney as soon as possible after your accident to start the claims process, and help prevent you from missing out on the potential compensation you deserve.



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Flora Templeton Stuart

Flora Templeton Stuart is the lead attorney and founder of the law firm Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers, established in 1976. She is a nationally recognized personal injury lawyer with over 40 years of experience. Her story has been featured on Fox, The New York Times, ABC, Time, and NBC.