Types of Car Accidents

Types of Car Accidents

Car accidents are, unfortunately, an all-too-common occurrence on our roads. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report indicated that there were 6,102,936 police-reported motor vehicle crashes in 2021, which resulted in 42,939 fatalities and left about 2.5 million injured individuals.

A seemingly routine drive can quickly become a life-altering event, as an accident may result in death, lifelong injuries, and significant property damage. In many cases, the negligent act of another driver is the cause of such accidents, and victims may seek damages through insurance claims or litigation.

At Bretz Injury Law, we are committed to helping auto accident victims and their families obtain justice and safeguard their futures. We won’t accept a low-ball offer and are ready to go to trial if necessary.

Our legal team has won over 98% of the cases we’ve pursued in the past 30 years, with over $300 million recovered. Contact the Bretz Injury Law team today to learn how we can help you or a loved one involved in a car accident.

Common Car Accidents

Car accidents can occur in various ways, depending on road and driver conditions. Every car accident is unique, but some types are more common than others. Below are some common types of car accidents:

Rear-End Collisions

These crashes occur when a car crashes into the one in front of it. In most rear-end collisions, the driver of the tailing car is considered at fault as it is their responsibility to maintain a safe following distance. However, fault isn’t always straightforward in this type of accident, and all parties must consider specific circumstances.

Some exceptions include when the leading driver reverses suddenly or when their brake lights malfunction.

Head-On Collisions

These types of car accidents are characterized by high impacts and are often the most dangerous. Head-on collision accidents occur when two cars moving in the opposite direction collide, which makes them common on two-lane roads. Often, drivers who overtake carelessly or drive into oncoming traffic are generally considered at fault.

Side-Impact Car Accidents

Side-impact auto accidents occur when the front or rear of one vehicle hits the side of another. These crashes, often referred to as T-bone collisions, are common at intersections and frequently cause catastrophic injuries, such as pelvic bone fractures or even wrongful death accidents.

Rollover Car Accidents

Rollover crashes occur when a car overturns and rests on its side or roof. They usually happen when a driver loses control of the car or due to a sudden shift in its weight to one side or when the driver overcorrects a skid. Such an occurrence is possible when a driver hits a pothole or curb or negotiates a curve at too high of a speed.

Car rollovers are less common types of car accidents but are more likely to result in fatalities or severe injuries.

Single-Vehicle Crashes

These accidents occur when only one car is involved in a crash, which could be crashing into an obstacle such as a street light, guardrail, or tree, or even rolling over. In these crashes, the driver is considered at fault if driver error resulted in the crash. Vehicle defects may also cause these crashes, and parties such as vehicle manufacturers may be liable, opening the possibility for a product liability claim.

Multi-Vehicle Crashes

Multiple-vehicle accidents, also called pile-ups or chain-reaction accidents, involve three or more vehicles. They mainly occur on highways or freeways where vehicles travel at high speeds, often resulting in severe injuries due to the number of vehicles involved and the potential for secondary impacts.

Hit-and-Run Accidents

Hit-and-run accidents may involve two moving cars, a parked vehicle, a pedestrian, or a cyclist. As the name suggests, a driver involved in the crash flees the scene without identifying themselves, offering help to injured parties, or reporting the incident to the police, as is required by law.

Drivers may flee the accident scene for various reasons, but the most common include:

  • Fear of legal consequences
  • Confusion or panic
  • Lack of insurance
  • Invalid driver’s license
  • Involvement in criminal activity

Most states consider leaving the accident scene a crime that may attract serious penalties, including fines, loss of driving privileges, or imprisonment.

Sideswipe Accidents

Sideswipe crashes occur when two parallel cars hit each other on their sides. These accidents often happen when one vehicle attempts to change lanes without considering the vehicle in the adjacent lane or when a driver fails to check blind spots when switching lanes. Sideswipe collisions are generally not serious, but may lead to secondary accidents if the initial impact causes one or both vehicles to lose control.

Most Common Causes of Car Accidents

Car accident causes are broadly categorized into driver-related, behavioral-related, vehicle-related, or road-related. In many cases, behavioral causes are the primary reasons for accident occurrence, but other causes or a combination of these causes may result in car crashes. Here are the common causes of car accidents:

Distracted Driving

Drivers are considered distracted when they engage in any other activity that diverts their attention from the road. Distractions are common causes of car accidents and come in various forms, including:

  • Texting or talking on the phone
  • Eating or drinking
  • Changing radio stations
  • Using a GPS
  • Rubbernecking
  • Fatigued driving

Any activity that takes the driver’s eyes off the road increases the likelihood of an accident.


Driving over a set speed limit is a common cause of accidents. Speeding reduces the driver’s ability to navigate around curves or objects on the road safely and significantly impacts the time a driver has to stop in the event of a sudden situation on the road.

Reckless Driving

Reckless or careless drivers disregard traffic rules and often engage in tailgating, switching lanes without signaling, and overtaking other vehicles dangerously. Blatant disobedience of the rules often puts drivers and other road users at risk of crashes.

Vehicle-Related Causes

Sometimes, a defect in a car system or component could be the primary cause of an accident. Some vehicle-attributed reasons for accidents include:

  • Wheel failure or tire degradation
  • Brake failure or degradation
  • Steering, suspension, transmission, or engine failure

Environmental Conditions

Heavy rain, snow, fog, or ice often reduce visibility, making roads slippery and driving even more dangerous. Drivers must adjust their driving habits in bad weather, including reducing speed and keeping a safe following distance, to avoid crashes.

Types of Car Accident Damages

Car accident victims can claim damages if they prove that another driver was responsible for their injuries. Below are the common damages available to claimants in various types of car accidents:

Economic Damages

These damages are awarded to claimants to financially compensate them for quantifiable financial losses suffered due to the defendant’s actions. These losses must be proven with specificity and may include the following:

  • Past and future medical costs
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Repair or replacement of damaged property

General Damages

These are also called non-economic damages and do not have an exact dollar value. They are awarded to compensate claimants in car accident cases for subjective losses such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Physical disfigurement
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Loss of companionship in the case of wrongful death

Punitive Damages

In some car accident cases, a judge or jury may order punitive damages for the defendant’s reckless behavior that endangered the lives of other parties on the road. Besides punishing the defendant, these damages are meant to deter others from similar behavior.

Contact Bretz Injury Law Today for Legal Help and Representation

Car accident cases can be complex since they may involve dealing with multiple insurance companies. Insurers retain top-tier defense teams that work hard to reduce or deny your claim, and it is only fair that you match their efforts by hiring an experienced Kansas car accident attorney.

At Bretz Injury Law, we stick to our common practice of assigning you an intentionally small team to ensure more personalized service and better outcomes. Our legal team will work with you every step of the way by helping protect your right to pursue compensation, ensuring you receive the necessary medical treatment, and advocating for a full and fair settlement for your injuries or the loss of a loved one.

Call Bretz Injury Law today at 620.RESULTS to learn more about how we can assist you with your car accident case.

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