Most Common Types of Car Accidents

Nobody plans to be in a car accident. It’s impossible to predict when or where they’ll happen. After the initial shock of the accident wears off, you’re faced with car repairs, medical care, and bills.

Rear-End Collisions

rear end car accidentPer the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, rear-end collisions make up 29% of all automobile accidents, making it the most common type of all car accidents. A 2007 study by NHTSA found that drivers were “routinely engaged in activities that divert their attention from the forward roadway while driving.” Things like cell phones, eating while driving, trying to find a decent radio station, changing the song, or any of the other things that we take our eyes off of the road to do, are a huge factor in rear-end collisions.

That may seem like a no-brainer, but when you’re actually driving in the car, it becomes much easier to lose focus, zone out or check your phone. While remaining focused is essential to driving to avoid any car accident, in the case of rear-end collisions, the next best tip to avoid hitting the car in front of you is too leave plenty of room between you and the car in front of you. A safe following distance, even in slow traffic, will give you plenty of time to stop if any unforeseen traffic obstacles come up.

Single Vehicle Accidents

While not usually the first thought that comes to mind when you think of car accidents, single vehicle crashes are not uncommon. These can happen with younger, inexperienced drivers or people who have been driving for years without a single ticket or incident. These car accidents can happen due to inclement weather, collisions with animals, or a vehicle hitting a stationary object. Occasionally impaired driving can factor into single vehicle collisions. Drivers are financially liable for injuries they cause to their passengers in single vehicle collisions. This is the case, no matter the relationship between the parties.

  • Weather-Related Single Vehicle Accidents

closeup of man after car accident and smartphoneIn the rain, or even after a rainstorm, water on the road can cause your car can hydroplane. Hydroplaning happens when a layer of water comes between your car’s wheels and the road. Because your wheels aren’t in contact with the road when you’re hydroplaning, turning the wheel has no effect on the direction of your car and braking suddenly can make it worse. The combination of all of these factors can cause a single vehicle accident.

Similarly, ice and snow frequently cause single vehicle accidents. You’re driving when your car suddenly starts sliding or fishtailing, so without thinking you suddenly hit the brake or try to overcorrect, causing your car to roll or slide off the road.

When it comes to weather-related accidents, the best way to prevent a car accident is to slow down. While you might not get to your destination as quickly, you’ll get there safely, and that’s infinitely more important. Regularly check your tire treads and if necessary given your location, consider getting specialty tires for rain or snow. If you find yourself losing control of your vehicle, immediately stop accelerating, and don’t try to turn the wheel aggressively in an attempt to overcorrect.

Animal Collisions

If your vehicle collides with wildlife on the road, it can be both upsetting and damaging to your vehicle and in turn, yourself. The best way to prevent hitting an animal on the road is to always pay attention to road signs, and if you’re in a wildlife crossing area, take extra caution. Use high beams in rural areas –making sure to dim them if another vehicle approaches in either direction — and ensure you don’t exceed the speed limit, so if an animal does appear on the road, you have plenty of time to stop. Unlike other types of single-car accidents, where the driver’s negligence is the cause, animal collisions are termed an “Act of God.”  In these instances, no one would be civilly liable.   


Whether the car is parked or if it’s clipped when merging or changing lanes, a sideswiping car accident can cause extensive and expensive damage to both vehicles. When merging or changing lanes, cars can clip other vehicles, often due to improper checking of blind spots beforehand. To prevent this from happening to you or from you clipping another vehicle, slow down around merging lanes, always use your turn signal when changing lanes, and double check your blind spots.

When it comes sideswiping parked cars, this often happens when drivers are operating a vehicle they’re unfamiliar with, typically a family member’s car or rented vehicle. This unfamiliarity with the size of the car combined with not being aware of your surroundings, can lead to sideswiping. When you’re driving a strange vehicle, use extra caution when navigating streets with parked cars, and always leave yourself plenty of room on both sides.

Side Impact Collisions

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, side crashes account for about a quarter of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in the United States. Side collisions, or “t-bone” crashes, happen when a driver fails to stop and collides with the vehicle that has the right of way. This type of car accident can happen when the driver runs a red light or stop sign or fails to yield in a roundabout. Side impact collisions are dangerous, especially when it happens with older vehicles that lack side airbags.

Of course the best way to prevent t-bone crashes is to obey traffic laws. Always look both ways when making turns into oncoming traffic. Stop at stop signs and slow down, rather than speed up, at yellow lights. By now we probably sound like a broken record, but being aware of your surroundings and proceeding with caution is the best way to avoid causing a car accident.

Vancouver traffic lawyer

Unfortunately, even if you take every precaution possible, you can still be the victim of an accident. You may be facing costly repairs and rising insurance rates. Beyond those costs, if you’ve been injured in an accident, you may be looking at years of recovery, and the car repair costs will be dwarfed by hospital bills. If you have questions about car accident liability, or need assistance, contact Philbrook Law Office today. We are here to listen, guide, and advocate for you.

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