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Types of Car Accidents

Some types of car accidents include head-on collisions, sideswipe collisions, side-impact collisions (also known as T-bone accidents), and rear-end collisions. Single-vehicle accidents can also cause serious injuries and substantial property damage.

The type of accident you were in matters. Often, the type of collision is important in determining fault. When you or a loved one suffers injuries because of an auto accident, consider hiring a car accident attorney to seek fair compensation from insurers or those directly responsible for the crash.


Types of Car Accidents Explained

Some of the most common types of car accidents are:

Rear-End Accidents

Types of Car Accident I Rear-End Accidents

A rear-end collision occurs when the front of one motorist’s vehicle strikes the rear bumper of another motorist’s vehicle.

Potential causes of rear-end accidents include:

  • Tailgating (driving too closely behind another vehicle)
  • Driving a vehicle with defective brakes
  • Changing lanes erratically, as a motorist may change lanes only to strike the rear of a vehicle in the lane they merge into
  • Driving while intoxicated, tired, or otherwise impaired

Most rear-end accidents happen because a motorist is not paying attention to or keeping a safe distance from traffic in front of them. While a number of injuries can happen during rear-end accidents, whiplash is especially common among victims of rear-end collisions.

Side-Impact Collisions

Types of Car Accident I Side-Impact Collision

When the front of one motor vehicle strikes the side of another vehicle, we refer to it as a side-impact collision. Side-impact accidents are also known as T-bone accidents.

These accidents can happen when:

  • A motorist runs a red light
  • A motorist runs a stop sign or yield sign
  • Motorists are confused about the right of way (at a four-way stop, for example), and one motorist proceeds into another motorist
  • A driver is distracted or impaired
  • A vehicle defect causes a motorist to lose control of their vehicle

Attorneys diagnose the cause of side-impact collisions on a case-by-case basis. Often, though, the motorist who strikes another vehicle (rather than the motorist of the vehicle absorbing the contact) is liable for the accident.

Sideswipe Accidents

Types of Car Accident I Sideswipe Collisions

Sideswipe accidents happen when one vehicle hits or scrapes the side of another. Rather than the vehicles colliding in a T-formation (as in side-impact collisions), sideswipe accidents often involve vehicles scraping at a near-parallel or acute angle.

Even though these accidents generally are not as high impact as a head-on or side-impact accident, they can cause serious injuries and property damage.

Head-On Collisions

Types of Car Accident I Head-On Collisions

Head-on accidents are the most dangerous type of auto accident. When two vehicles are traveling in opposing directions and hit head-on, the force of impact is often devastating.

Potential outcomes in a head-on collision include:

  • Severe head and neck injuries, as the head may move rapidly forward and backward when a vehicle stops suddenly due to head-on impact
  • The occupant being ejected from the vehicle, potentially suffering severe injuries as a consequence
  • The occupant slamming their head on the steering wheel or dashboard upon impact
  • Broken bones and other injuries caused by the immense force imposed on victims’ bodies

The higher speed vehicles are traveling at the time of a head-on accident, the more severe victims’ injuries.

Rollover Accidents

Types of Car Accident I Rollover Accidents

When a vehicle rolls over during an accident, the risk of injuries rises.

Rollover accidents can happen when:

  • One vehicle strikes another on its side, causing the impacted vehicle to roll
  • A motorist loses control of their vehicle (perhaps after a tire blowout or while swerving to avoid an accident), and the momentum of the vehicle leads to rollover

These accidents can cause a vehicle’s roof to cave in, and the rolling motion can expose vehicle occupants to severe trauma.

Single-Vehicle Accidents

In a recent year, single-vehicle accidents between a vehicle and a fixed object accounted for more than 26 percent of accident-related deaths. These accidents are not always the fault of the motorist who strikes the fixed object. For instance, if a motorist swerves and strikes a barrier because a pedestrian ran into the roadway, the motorist can hold the pedestrian liable for the damages.

Who Is at Fault for a Car Accident?

Each accident happens differently and for different reasons. If you hire a car accident lawyer, they will determine who is at fault for your collision and resulting damages. Liable parties may include:

A Motorist

Motorists are often the cause of car accidents. Through reckless driving, intoxication, distraction, and other hazardous actions, motorists cause injuries and property damage. Sometimes, careless motorists take victims’ lives.

A Vehicle Manufacturer

When vehicle defects contribute to a car accident, you can hold the manufacturer or seller of the vehicle liable for your damages.

You can hold manufacturers liable for:

  • Designing a vehicle in a flawed way
  • Using cheap or defective parts in assembling the vehicle
  • Failing to properly test vehicles for safety
  • Failing to recall a defective vehicle
  • Failing to issue necessary warnings to buyers

If a seller of a used vehicle fails to do due diligence before passing the vehicle to a customer, they may be liable for defects they failed to disclose to the buyer.

A Municipality 

Municipalities can be liable when conditions within their control cause an accident.

Failures that may qualify as municipal negligence include:

  • Failing to install or maintain signage (like stop signs) and traffic lights where they are necessary
  • Failing to install or maintain adequate lighting throughout roadways
  • Failing to fill potholes, smooth uneven surfaces, and fix other blemishes in the roadway
  • Failing to properly mark lanes and repaint faded lanes as necessary
  • Installing work zones in a dangerous way
  • Installing barriers, traffic cones, and other protective devices in a dangerous way

Suing municipalities can be difficult, but it is a task a car accident attorney should be willing to complete. If a city or other governmental body is responsible for causing you harm, officials should pay fairly for the harm they have caused.

A Pedestrian or Bicyclist

Pedestrians and bicyclists are often victims of accidents, but they can also cause accidents. By entering traffic, veering out of their lane, or engaging in other actions that cause motorists to swerve or stop suddenly, pedestrians and bicyclists can be responsible for collisions.

How an Attorney Can Prove Who Is Liable for Your Accident

Your car accident lawyer will leave no doubt about who caused your accident-related damages.

Your attorney may prove fault for your traffic collision by:

  • Speaking with witnesses to the car accident: Eyewitnesses can provide their accounts of events, which can help bolster your account of the car accident.
  • Obtaining any footage related to the accident: Video can be an especially powerful form of evidence, as it may show exactly how two vehicles collided. Such footage can come from dashcams, traffic cameras, and other sources.
  • Photographing vehicular damage: Vehicle damage can help prove how an accident happened. For instance, if one vehicle has a crushed front bumper and another a crushed rear bumper, we can determine that a rear-end accident likely happened.
  • Obtaining reconstructions from experts: One or more experts may use witness accounts and other information to reconstruct a car accident. These reconstructions can be physical or digital and may be especially helpful when there is no footage of an accident.

The evidence often speaks for itself in car accident cases. However, your attorney must gather and organize the evidence in a way that most effectively tells your story.

I Suffered Injuries in a Car Accident, What Should I Do?

If you suffered injuries in a car accident, your next steps may be to:

Seek Medical Treatment and Demand a Thorough Examination

Getting medical treatment will benefit you from a health perspective but can also aid in building your case.

You should:

  • Find a doctor you trust to conduct a complete physical examination
  • Alert your doctor to any symptoms you’ve experienced after the accident
  • Seek treatment for any mental health issues you are suffering 
  • Keep all medical records, images, and bills related to the car accident

If you have difficulty finding a trustworthy lawyer, your car accident attorney should pair you with a doctor.

Hire a Trustworthy Car Accident Lawyer to Fight for the Compensation You Deserve

Those who want a fair financial recovery for a car accident often hire an attorney.

You may seek a law firm that:

  • Has handled other car accident cases in your geographic location
  • Has a record of financial recoveries for car accident victims
  • Has positive testimonials from former clients
  • Makes you feel confident in their services during your free consultation

Most car accident attorneys offer no-cost consultations. You can speak with a firm’s representative, ask questions, and gain intel to help you choose the right law firm for your case.

I Lost a Loved One in a Car Accident, What Should I Do?

If your loved one died because of injuries they suffered in a car accident, you may bring a wrongful death case against liable parties.

You may:

  • Tend to the mental and emotional problems that arise when you lose a loved one
  • Ensure you are not experiencing any physical symptoms because of your loss (and seek necessary medical care if you are)
  • Hire a wrongful death lawyer to seek justice for your loss

A wrongful death attorney will identify those who are liable for your loved one’s death. Your lawyer will fight for a financial recovery that covers the economic and non-economic costs of your loss.

How a Car Accident Lawyer Will Fight for the Money You Deserve

When you hire a car accident lawyer to lead your insurance claim or lawsuit, you should expect them to:

Secure Evidence from Your Car Accident

Your lawyer will quickly seek evidence related to the accident. Specifically, your attorney will seek accounts, video, and other evidence that proves who caused the collision.

Detail and Calculate Damages from the Collision

Your attorney will document the harm caused by your car accident, and such documentation may include:

  • Medical records, images, and bills
  • Expert testimony about your pain and suffering
  • Past income records that help prove your professional damages
  • Invoices for vehicle repairs
  • Bills for the replacement of other damaged property (like phones and clothing)

Your attorney will obtain documentation for each of your damages.

Negotiate With Liable Parties (Including Insurance Companies)

Car accident lawyers deal with insurers on their clients’ behalf. This ensures that the case moves forward as efficiently as possible and that the client’s rights remain intact.

Take Your Case to Court if It’s the Right Course of Action

Car accident cases do not always go to court, but going to trial can be the right option for certain victims. If your attorney does not receive a fair settlement offer from liable parties and must take your case to court, they will be responsible for completing your trial.

Recoverable Damages for Car Accident Victims

Damages are unique to each car accident victim, and your lawyer will create a new, comprehensive record of the economic and non-economic harm you’ve suffered.

For cases involving non-fatal accidents, your damages may include:

  • Medical costs
  • Lost income and other professional damages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental health treatment costs
  • Property expenses (including but not limited to vehicle repairs)

In cases involving fatal car accidents, damages may include funeral costs, loss of consortium, loss of financial support, and several other damages.

Do not wait to retain an attorney, as your case may involve several time-sensitive obligations (including filing the case). The sooner you retain your attorney, the sooner you can focus on your health and allow your lawyer to fight for the money you deserve.

Call an Attorney Today for a Free, No-Obligation Consultation

A lawyer can provide essential legal services and advice about every aspect of your case. When you need justice for an accident, turn to those with an extensive history of assisting car accident victims.

Call a personal injury lawyer today to discuss how they will assist you. The call will come with no obligation to hire our firm, so there is no risk in speaking with law firms in your area. The firms should review your case and explain the next steps if you want to hire them to fight for fair compensation.

Michael J. Sabbeth, Esquire
Michael J. Sabbeth,
Vermont Car Accident Attorney