Car accidents come in many different types, each affecting the severity of injuries suffered by drivers, passengers, or other accident victims. The kind of car crash may also help determine which driver or other party bears responsibility for the accident.
Therefore, you should familiarize yourself with the types of car accidents to understand the risks associated with specific wrecks. And if you have suffered injuries in a crash, let a car accident attorney help you pursue financial recovery from the driver or another party at fault for the accident.
A car accident lawyer can investigate the car accident, recover evidence, identify at-fault parties, document your injuries and losses, and pursue compensation through insurance claims, settlement negotiations, or trial litigation.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
Car accidents are often caused by driver error. But other factors can contribute to wrecks, including weather and road conditions.
Some of the most frequent causes of car accidents include:
- Reckless driving, including excessive speeding, street racing, or darting in and out of traffic
- Aggressive driving and road rage
- Failing to use signals or mirrors before turning or changing lanes
- Failing to yield the right-of-way
- Disregarding stop signs, traffic lights, and other signals and controls
- Distracted driving, including using a cell phone, eating, drinking, grooming, applying makeup, interacting with passengers, or adjusting the radio, climate control, or navigation
- Drowsy or fatigued driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driver inexperience
- Inadequate vehicle maintenance
- Car defects or defective auto parts, especially defective tires, brakes, or transmissions
- Poor road conditions, including potholes, broken pavement, or debris
- Unsafe road designs, including visual obstructions for drivers or lack of sufficient traffic controls
- Adverse weather conditions, such as heavy precipitation or fog
- Low lighting and nighttime driving
Common Types of Car Accidents
Various kinds of crashes can result in injuries and property damage.
Some examples of the most common types of car accidents that occur in Bakersfield include
A head-on car crash occurs when the front of one car collides with the front of another vehicle. Head-on collisions usually happen because a driver veers over the center line or median into opposing lanes of traffic, often due to drowsiness, intoxication, or distraction.
Head-on collisions can also happen when a driver drives the wrong way down a one-way street or on a highway access ramp. Head-on collisions can also occur at intersections when a left-turning car fails to yield the right-of-way to an oncoming vehicle.
Head-on car accidents tend to cause the most severe injuries for car occupants since both vehicles in a head-on collision hit one another with full force. These crashes can often lead to fatalities for occupants of both cars.
A rear-end collision involves a car running into the back of another vehicle. These accidents usually occur due to tailgating or speeding or because a driver fails to brake in time due to distraction, drowsiness, or intoxication.
Rear-end collisions most frequently happen at intersections and in heavy traffic. The force of a rear-end collision can also push a car into the vehicle ahead, triggering a series of rear-end impacts. While the driver in the rear is often presumed at fault for a rear-end collision, the driver in front may share blame for the rear-end car accident if they cut off another car or slam on their brakes suddenly and without reason.
Rear-end car accidents often cause whiplash injuries because the collision forces cause the head and neck of a car occupant to jerk back and forth in a whipping motion.
In a sideswipe collision, the side of one car impacts the side of another vehicle. Sideswipe collisions occur most frequently on the highway when a driver attempts to change into a lane already occupied by another vehicle or fails to signal or check their mirrors before moving into the other lane.
A sideswipe collision may only result in vehicle damage with no injuries to the cars’ occupants. Depending on the force of the impact, a sideswipe collision can cause one or both drivers to lose control of their car, potentially colliding with other vehicles or guardrails or running off the road.
A side-impact or T-bone car accident involves the front of one car colliding into the side of another car, with the two vehicles making a “T” shape. T-bone accidents most frequently occur in intersections when a driver runs a red light or stop sign or fails to yield the right-of-way.
A driver may also T-bone another car when pulling out of a driveway into a busy road. Low-speed T-bone accidents can also happen in parking lots or garages when a driver pulls or backs out of a parking spot or pulls into a traffic lane and hits another car.
T-bone collisions can cause serious injuries for the occupants of the side-impacted vehicle since most cars have less crash protection on their sides than at the front or rear of the vehicle.
Low-speed collisions, also called “fender-benders,” are those in which the involved vehicles travel at less than 10 miles per hour at the time of impact. Although many people may assume that low-speed car accidents do not harm vehicle occupants physically, they can cause injuries such as whiplash and herniated discs. Low-speed car accidents involving pedestrians or bicyclists can also result in serious injuries such as broken bones, internal injuries and bleeding, and traumatic brain injuries.
Road Departure Accidents
A road departure car accident occurs when a car runs off the roadway before crashing or coming to a stop. A driver may run off the road after falling asleep due to drowsiness, intoxication, or distracted driving. A mechanical failure from defective parts or inadequate maintenance, including brake failures or unintended acceleration, may also cause these crashes.
While road departure accidents typically only involve the car that ran off the road, an out-of-control car may strike other vehicles, bicyclists, or pedestrians before coming to a stop or may damage property alongside the road.
A rollover accident involves a car flipping onto its side or roof or tumbling end over end. Rollover car accidents often cause serious or potentially life-threatening injuries, including internal organ injuries and internal bleeding, spinal cord injuries and paralysis, traumatic brain injuries, and traumatic amputations.
Rollover crashes can occur if a vehicle flips over after striking another vehicle or hitting a pothole, curb, or median. Cars can also flip over due to a tire blowout or tread separation. Slick road conditions and high vehicle centers of gravity can also increase the risk of a rollover accident.
Drivers may also trigger a rollover of their vehicle by losing control due to speeding, intoxicated driving, distracted driving, or drowsy/fatigued driving. Rollover accidents may only involve the flipped car, or the car may strike other vehicles, bicycles, or pedestrians in the crash.
Single Vehicle Accidents
A single-vehicle accident refers to a car crash that involves only one vehicle. A driver who crashes their car due to negligent operation of the vehicle may have liability to other injured passengers in their vehicle. However, not all single-vehicle accidents occur due to the fault of the car’s driver.
A driver may crash their vehicle due to another driver’s negligence, such as when a reckless driver swerves or cuts in front of a car, causing that driver to lose control when trying to avoid a collision. A vehicle may also crash due to a mechanical failure caused by defective parts or assembly or by negligently automotive maintenance or repairs.
Single-vehicle accidents can also occur due to poor road conditions, such as potholes, broken pavement, or slick road surfaces.
The term multi-vehicle accident can refer to any collision involving more than one vehicle, although it can also refer to a pile-up accident involving three or more vehicles. In the latter case, such accidents usually occur on the highway or interstate.
A multi-vehicle crash may involve a collision between two cars that bounce off one another to strike other vehicles on the road. Multi-vehicle crashes can also happen when vehicles involved in a collision stay on the roadway and oncoming traffic cannot avoid hitting those vehicles, causing crashed cars to pile up.
Pile-up accidents often occur at night and in adverse weather conditions because lower visibility means that drivers may fail to notice a crash in time to slow down or maneuver to avoid disabled vehicles.
A driving-under-the-influence (DUI) accident is a car crash involving a driver whose consumption of alcohol or drugs has affected their ability to operate a vehicle. DUI accidents frequently result in more severe injuries than the average car crash, as intoxicated drivers tend to speed and may not brake or swerve to avoid the full force of a collision.
While a drunk driver may be at fault for a car accident due to their violation of intoxicated driving laws, other motorists involved in a DUI accident may be partly or entirely at fault for the crash. For example, a speeding driver who gets into an accident with an intoxicated driver who was following all other traffic laws may be partially or entirely at fault for the collision.
Most states, including California, require all motorists involved in a collision to stop or immediately return to the crash scene to help anyone injured in the accident and exchange insurance information with other drivers or owners of any property damaged in the accident.
A hit-and-run accident occurs when a driver involved in a collision fails to stop or immediately return to the scene. Victims of hit-and-run accidents can face trouble recovering compensation for their expenses and losses if they cannot locate the hit-and-run driver. However, an injured hit-and-run accident victim with uninsured motorist coverage in their auto insurance policy can turn to their insurer for compensation.
As more people turn to cycling as an alternative to getting around by motor vehicle, so, too, does the number of car-vs.-bicycle collisions. Bicycle accidents can occur when a motorist fails to share the road with a cyclist or makes unsafe maneuvers. Bike accidents often happen on roads lacking dedicated bicycle lanes that separate bikes from vehicular traffic.
Bicycle accidents often occur due to drivers following too closely to a bike rider, passing a bicyclist too closely, failing to stop at red lights and stop signs, or failing to yield the right-of-way to a cyclist. For example, a car making a right turn may hit an oncoming cyclist if the driver fails to signal their turn or to check their side mirror for bicycles.
Drivers and car passengers can also cause bicycle accidents by opening a door of a street-parked vehicle in front of an oncoming cyclist. Bicycle accidents often cause catastrophic injuries since cyclists have no protection in a collision with a motor vehicle.
Car accidents may also involve a vehicle and a pedestrian. Pedestrian accidents frequently occur at intersections and crosswalks when drivers run red lights or stop signs or fail to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. Drivers may increase their risk of causing pedestrian accidents by speeding or driving while distracted, tired, or intoxicated.
Pedestrian accidents can also occur in parking lots or garages when drivers fail to turn to look for pedestrians when pulling out of parking spots or turning corners. Pedestrian accidents also tend to result in serious pedestrian injuries, especially collisions with larger passenger vehicles like SUVs or light trucks.