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Generally speaking, the term “accident” refers to an unintentional collision. At the same time, many people feel as though referring to collisions as “accidents” implies that no one was at-fault, and/or works to downplay the root cause of most car crashes: human error.

Someone is almost always at-fault for a motor vehicle collision (except in extreme circumstances), so using the term “accident” can be misleading to many people. While it’s acceptable to interchange these terms in an informal setting, it’s important to understand that the choice of words can make a huge difference before a jury.

While in everyday conversation we refer to them as “car accidents,” official documents usually refer to them as car crashes, wrecks, or collisions. In fact, most states have now renamed their police “accident reports” as “crash reports.”

In legal terms, there is a difference between the word accident and crash. Terms such as crash, wreck, or collision provide a deeper understanding of what actually happened as opposed to the ambiguous term “accident.” An accident could refer to many things, while crash clearly implies a motor vehicle collision with no implied determination of fault.

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