As a car crash attorney, for the past 36 years, I (Kevin Coluccio at Coluccio Law) have been representing those injured by the acts of others or the survivors of those killed by the acts of others. The acts causing these injuries or death are not accidents. On the contrary, they are acts of carelessness, ignorance, neglect, inattention, and failure.
Accident according to various dictionaries and website is defined as follows:
- An unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury;
- An undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, loss, or casualty;
- An unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance
None of these definitions are acceptable to me, nor are they accurate. The use of the word disregards the factors and reasons causing and contributing to the error and consequent injury. These terms suggest that car crashes are inevitable and beyond our control.
At Coluccio Law, we never use the term accident – because car crashes are not inevitable or beyond our control.
While in nearly every case that we handle, there is no intent or desire to cause injury or death to another, I believe that they are not inevitable occurrences. That is why we only use the words car crash, car collision, or car crash incident. In addition, we use these terms, because we want to emphasize that traffic injuries and fatalities are preventable.
Every day in the United States, some 90 people die because of car crashes. About 130,000 are injured each year in semi-truck collisions. These are just some of the basic statistics.
When reading or hearing about a car crash, so often it is reported that the car jumped the curb or the car ran a red light. The accountability is shifted from human beings and placed on the car, when in fact the story should read – “the pedestrian was killed when the driver failed to operate his car as required” or “the crash caused a fatality because the driver was not paying attention and ran the red light”.
We all know that driving is a dangerous activity and that each of us has had near misses, however, by emphasizing the term “crash” and avoiding the term “accident” we bring focus to the need for prevention. I always say that the only responsibility a driver has is to operate his or her vehicle in the safest and most attentive manner possible. The use of the word accident implies the bad things that happen when we are behind the wheel of a car are out of our control. This is simply not true and it is especially not true for semi-truck drivers.
Accidents don’t happen, crashes and collisions happen. They happen because a driver is careless, does not judge his speed properly, is distracted by his cellular telephone or his radio, is reaching to grab some food on the seat next to him, or he is not properly trained to operate a semi-truck and trailer. All of these actions are preventable and none are inevitable.
It is time for all of us in the legal profession and especially those of us handling car and truck crashes to strike the word “accident” from our vocabulary, from our websites, and from our writings. We also need to encourage our organizations to drop the term.
It is my goal in holding those accountable for crashes to impress upon them, their insurance carriers and their employers that with prevention and a strict focus on the singular task of safe driving that we can reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on our roadways.