​What Are the Most Common Types of Car Accidents?

Regardless of the type of car accident you were involved in, the legal principle for each is the same; you are entitled to financial compensation if someone else was to blame for the accident. However, it may take some investigative work and intense effort to get to that point.

It takes some time to establish what happened and demonstrate your legal entitlement to money. After you have been in a car accident, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal rights.

Here are the common types of car accidents and what you should know about each of them.

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Rear-end Accidents

​What Are the Most Common Types of Car accidents?

Rear-end car accidents are the most common type of collision. Almost one in every three car accidents is a rear-end collision.

Here are some of the causes of rear-end car accidents:

  • Drivers may be distracted because they are looking down at their phones and do not see the car in front of them
  • Excessive speeding means that the driver does not have enough room to brake when there is a car stopped in front of them
  • The rear driver does not allow for enough distance between them and the front car
  • The brakes on the trailing car did not have proper maintenance

Do not mistake common for not dangerous. When one car traveling faster strikes another that is either stopped or traveling slower, there are dangers for both drivers. The driver that hits the car suffers a head-on collision and all its dangers. People can suffer severe harm if the collision is at a higher speed.

The driver of the front car can also suffer serious injuries, even though the impact is further away from them on the car. A rear-end car unleashes a tremendous amount of force. While the front driver’s body is at rest, their head will snap forward. The most common accident injury from a rear-end collision is whiplash.

This serious health condition can cause permanent neck and back injuries. Serious cases of whiplash may even cause traumatic brain injuries when the head strikes the base of the skull.

Many research studies demonstrate the danger of whiplash. One research study found that almost 40 percent of whiplash victims were dissatisfied with their health five years after the accident, compared to 24 percent of accident victims who suffered other “mild” injuries. These injuries can be chronic, and even surgery and extensive rehabilitation may not fully heal them.

Usually, the rear driver is presumed to be at fault for a rear-end injury because the car strikes the other. However, the car’s driver can rebut the presumption if they can show that the front car stopped short or cut them off before the accident. You should always check with an attorney to see if you have a potential case.

T-Bone Accident

A T-bone accident is when the front end of one car hits the broadside of another car. T-bone accidents usually happen when a car has run a stop sign or red light. They can also happen at unmarked intersections when a car tries to cross oncoming traffic to reach the other side of the road.

T-bone accidents are extremely dangerous for both drivers and their passengers. One car makes an impact at the front of the vehicle, so the driver of that car will have the same risks involved in a head-on collision. The other driver may be struck on the driver’s side door, posing a risk of serious bodily harm. Passengers can be in harm’s way if the car strikes one of their doors.

In a T-bone car accident, one car is obviously not where it should be at the time of the crash. Clearly, one driver has broken the law when they fail to yield the right of way as necessary. However, you still need to prove that the other driver failed to yield.

If the accident happened in a busy intersection, there might be witnesses who can testify who ran the stop sign or red light. If there were no cars around, it became more of a challenge to prove what happened. The two drivers may engage in a “truth contest,” where they each point the finger at each other. You need evidence that makes it clear that the other driver should be responsible for the accident, which is exactly where your attorney can be helpful.


Sideswipe accidents can be minor under many circumstances, but there is also the potential for serious injury. Although sideswipe accidents have a lower fatality rate than other types of crashes, there is the possibility that there may be other events that follow the initial swipe. For example, the contact may spark a secondary collision.

These crashes usually happen when one driver does not check their blind spot before they change lanes or attempts a merge when they do not have the vehicle clearance. The driver may either not be paying attention because they are distracted, or they misjudge the amount of room they have.

Sideswipe collisions can be dangerous for many reasons. One or both of the cars may lose control because of the impact. They may spin out into oncoming traffic or drive off the road into a guard wall. In the worst-case scenario, one of the cars may flip over. The issue is not so much the impact itself as it is the effect of the impact.

Head-on Collisions

Head-on collisions are the single most dangerous car accident type for both drivers. The front of each car collides with the other, doing the maximum possible damage to each.

Even though head-on collisions are only 2.3 percent of total road crashes, they are responsible for more than ten percent of total road fatalities and more than five percent of injury-causing crashes. Those in the crash may suffer serious injuries that cause lifelong effects.

Head-on crashes are so severe because of the force that they involve. The entire crash force is focused on the front of the car, causing it to collapse inward. The physics makes the drivers more likely to pitch forward violently. Just the force at which the airbag deploys can cause major injury. Even if the driver’s head does not hit the steering wheel, the force of the crash can cause major internal injuries and organ damage. What makes head-on crashes even more dangerous is that a driver cannot anticipate another driver barreling straight down on them and take evasive action in time.

In a head-on collision, one driver is clearly not where they are supposed to be and comes straight at the other driver.

Head-on collisions can happen due to:

  • Drunk driving, when the driver cannot see or understand the road signs
  • Distracted driving, when the driver veers out of their own lane and crosses the centerline of the road
  • Aggressive driving, when a driver loses control of their car
  • Reckless driving, when a driver ends up in the wrong place
  • Failure to anticipate weather conditions and skidding out of the lane

Regarding liability, it is usually clear who is responsible for the crash based on where the collision occurs. Generally, the driver who is out of their own lane will be the one who is responsible for the head-on collision, although no rules are set in stone.

Single-Vehicle Accidents

While most people may not think they can seek financial compensation for single-vehicle accidents, there are some circumstances under which the accident can be someone else’s fault. If another vehicle has cut you off or forced you off the road, the driver can be legally responsible for the accident. All it takes is to show that the driver acted unreasonably and was the proximate cause of your injuries. Of course, tracking down the driver responsible for your single-car accident may be difficult. You might rely extensively on witness testimony from people who saw what happened.

The accident might also have happened because something was wrong with your car. Your vehicle may have been defective or improperly maintained by the service station. For example, the brakes may not have functioned properly because of a defective part. You may have lost control of the car due to an issue with the transmission. In that case, you can file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the car or part or the dealer. Whoever was responsible for the defect that caused the accident should have to pay.

If you were involved in a single-car accident, you will need to overcome a heavy presumption that you were to blame for your own accident, but if the facts and law are on your side, you deserve to receive compensation just like anyone else.


Car Accident Compensation Depends on Sufficient Evidence

In any car accident case, you need to have the proof necessary to show that another driver was negligent. That is the legal standard you need to meet to qualify for financial compensation. Negligence is the legal term for when someone acts unreasonably under the circumstances. Essentially, you will need to prove that the driver departed from what an ordinary driver should have done. To prove negligence, you need to demonstrate exactly what happened. Your word only goes so far when the other driver has their own side of the story. In a car accident case, it is not what you know but what you can prove.

Hiring an attorney can help you prove what happened through the evidence they collect. An experienced car accident lawyer can work to investigate your accident to compile the proof necessary to persuade either the insurance company or a jury. You are not in the best position to begin to assemble your case at the scene of the car accident, no matter how much experts tell you to take pictures and interview witnesses right after the crash. If you have been in one of these crashes, there is a strong likelihood that you have suffered a serious physical injury. You will likely need to wait until after the accident to begin to assemble the proof. An experienced lawyer can help you build the case you need to get financial compensation.

You Also Need to Fight for Adequate Financial Compensation

Proving fault is just the first part of your legal case. In some cases, it is very clear who was to blame for the accident, and the fight will center on getting enough compensation for your injuries. An insurance company is more than happy to make you a settlement offer because their focus is on ending the case on favorable financial terms for themselves. They want you to sign on the dotted line while minimizing their own financial liability. An insurance company is out to make money, and they do not care about your interests.

Your lawyer will stand up for your legal rights when the insurance company is trying to trample on them. They will advise you to say no when the settlement offer is for less than you deserve, and they will explain your side to the insurance company. In some cases, your lawyer will help you turn up the pressure because insurance companies might want to avoid litigation. They know that litigation can be costly and risky, especially if you have proof of their policyholder’s liability.

When Should You Call a Car Accident Attorney?

Tatiana Boohoff, Car Accident Attorney in Seattle
Tatiana Boohoff, Car Accident Attorney

The time to call a car accident lawyer is as soon as possible after the crash. You have limited time to build a strong case, and you want to begin protecting your legal rights as soon as possible.

There is no reason for you to try to handle matters on your own. In fact, it may cost you a significant amount of money to even try to do so. You do not need to pay to hire a car accident attorney, as you only pay legal fees if your lawyer wins your case.

Seek a free case evaluation today, so you know what to expect following your injuries.

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Seattle, WA 98121

December 16, 2022
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