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The Difference Between a 'Crash' and an 'Accident'

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The rear-end crash: A negligence classic.

Some people call auto collisions accidents. Other people insist on calling them crashes. The words do have separate meanings. If you've been injured in an auto collision in the past - be it as a driver, passenger, bicyclist, motorcyclist, pedestrian - and the wreck was caused because of someone else's poor or negligent driving, you might insist on calling it a crash rather than an accident.

In a true accident, after all, no one is really at fault.

An accident is defined by Merriam-Webster as "an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance." It is also defined as "an unfortunate event resulting especially from carelessness or ignorance." Yet a third definition: "[A]n unexpected happening causing loss or injury which is not due to any fault or misconduct on the part of the person injured but for which legal relief may be sought."

Based on these definitions, you could use the words crash and accident interchangeably, but for those who insist that there is a difference, it's because in the overwhelming majority of car crashes, someone was indeed at fault.

Crashing Into a Home

As per ABC 7 news, a driver is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol (or perhaps some other substance), after speeding, driving on the wrong side of the road, blowing through a stop sign, and driving through a stranger's garage.

The homeowner says that his garage, two front rooms and a bunch of new furniture were destroyed - but no injuries to the occupants of the home. The driver did not walk away unscathed. According to the report, he may have suffered paralysis.

The general definition of negligence is a "failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances," as Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute defines it.

Unless additional evidence arises showing otherwise, this case likely fits the bill, and serves as a reminder that drinking alcohol and getting behind the wheel do not mix.

This case, in other words, is a crash, not an accident.

Read more: Suspected DUI driver partially paralyzed after plowing into Covina home

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