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  1. #1
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    Why do we call it an accident?

    Just to give you some context, this thread is the reason that I am starting this thread.

    I've had an issue for a long time with the terminology that is applied to vehicular collisions on the roadway. Most collisions are not the result of an "accident." They result from somebody doing something stupid (whether is be on purpose matters not), and it is their fault. And when somebody intentionally assaults another person with their vehicle, it is most definitely not an "accident."

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    No one who works in traffic calls them accidents anymore.

    No traffic engineer etc. They all say, "crashes."

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    That is good to know and mildly comforting that the planners are facing reality.

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    Senior Member StrangeWill's Avatar
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    Because the ****ing dictionary says so.


    For some reason members of this forum have deemed that accident means without responsibility, wutever.

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    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    <humor>

    #1: According to folklore, said collision of objects was not supposed to happen, hence the term "accident."

    #2: The actual physical collision of objects is deemed a "crash" by motorists, unless it involves colliding with unimportant objects such as garden implements, kids' toys, pedestrians, children, scooters, cyclists, and spouses. In such cases, see previous terminology if you are an autoholic, consider the term "collision out of stupidity and/or woolgathering" if you consider yourself mildly intelligent.

    #3: When Roscoe Butterworth in his jacked Silverado 3500 or Shewan Breeze McKria in her new BMW/AMG 350i Turbo convertible attempt - or succeed - in running you off the road, it is "intentional malice" to cyclists and others in the position of the attacked. Mr. Butterworth and Miss McKria consider it motorist's "manifest destiny."

    </humor>

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    Quote Originally Posted by darksiderising View Post
    Just to give you some context, this thread is the reason that I am starting this thread.

    I've had an issue for a long time with the terminology that is applied to vehicular collisions on the roadway. Most collisions are not the result of an "accident." They result from somebody doing something stupid [b](whether is be on purpose matters not),[b] and it is their fault. And when somebody intentionally assaults another person with their vehicle, it is most definitely not an "accident."
    Sigh. Another legal illiterate attempting to teach law.

    Of course it matters whether it's intentional or not-- if it's intentional, it's not negligence, and therefore not "accidental." If it's not intentional, it's probably the result of negligence (aka "somebody doing something stupid"), and therefore, "accidental"-- i.e., not done intentionally.

    And assault is always intentional, and therefore never "accidental." But most collisions are not intentional, and therefore, most collisions are not assaults-- i.e., they're "accidental."

    Quote Originally Posted by gosmsgo View Post
    No one who works in traffic calls them accidents anymore.

    No traffic engineer etc. They all say, "crashes."
    Probably because they don't teach law in engineering school.
    Last edited by Blue Order; 05-21-08 at 09:36 PM.

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    Senior Member LCI_Brian's Avatar
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    I agree with Blue Order, but on the other hand, the term "accident" has the connotation in many people's minds that whatever happened was unavoidable. "Crash" gets the same meaning across, but without that connotation.

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    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    lawyers and engineers. sounds like a bad joke!

    but seriously, I always say crash these days



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    Quote Originally Posted by LCI_Brian View Post
    I agree with Blue Order, but on the other hand, the term "accident" has the connotation in many people's minds that whatever happened was unavoidable. "Crash" gets the same meaning across, but without that connotation.
    I agree.

    Negligent actions are always avoidable, and their consequences are always foreseeable-- that's why people are held liable for their negligent actions. But there is a common misunderstanding-- at least here on Bikeforums, and thus, maybe amongst the general public-- that if an injury is "accidental," nobody is held accountable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by randya View Post
    but seriously, I always say crash these days


    Me too.

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    Let's be simple; I like the KISS principle -- "Keep It Simple, Stupid!" Yeah, I call myself stupid about 3x/week, I have tough standards....

    An 'accident' is an event of some damage, injury, or mess, that was not intended to happen. Negligence, carelessness, and the like are used to determine the fault of the accident...and yes, there almost always IS someone at fault. "I didn't mean to" doesn't make the damage go away.... Whether you meant to or not, you did it. So own up.

    This is different from an event that WAS meant to happen -- those could be called "on purpose's", but I am being facetious here.

    Love seeing stuff like this on the TV court shows every day....

  12. #12
    kipuka explorer bkrownd's Avatar
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    I prefer "bang-up", myself. "Wreck" if blood was spilled.
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    Senior Member Pig_Chaser's Avatar
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    I know there's a bit of a push here to term all accidents "collisions" which is in fact correct terminalogy. However ergo most collisions are in fact "accidents". The last part of the definition of accidents usually is the "involuntary defecation and/or unrination" which can also be a result of a collision.. therefore english majors and lawyers will argue than all collisions are accidents (unless you can prove intent.... good luck). Even though the word accident carries with it a certain air of innocence which is in fact the reason people are pushing to call all "accidents" collisions. So even though a collision can be the result of gross negligence, if the result is unintended, it is (unfortunately) still an accident.

    Edit: Colesnotes version: when you look up the word accident, the definitions almost always use words such as "unforseen" and "unintended"... Even though a collision can be the result of gross negligence, if the result is unintended, it is (unfortunately) still an accident.
    Last edited by Pig_Chaser; 05-21-08 at 11:48 PM.

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    Senior Member StrangeWill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LCI_Brian View Post
    I agree with Blue Order, but on the other hand, the term "accident" has the connotation in many people's minds that whatever happened was unavoidable. "Crash" gets the same meaning across, but without that connotation.
    Because they're bloody idiots? If we started to define the world around us based on the lower 5% of intelligence, we've be really screwed.

  15. #15
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pig_Chaser View Post
    The last part of the definition of accidents usually is the "involuntary defecation and/or unrination" which can also be a result of a collision..
    I object. One's own coming into this world can be an "accident" of "urination" as a result of a "collision." Therefore, a "collision" can be an "accident."

    Thank you for tuning in folks, and welcome to Match Game '74...

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  16. #16
    Conservative Hippie
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    Crashes, collisions, wrecks, they are very nearly all caused by one or more people acting in a negligent or stupid manner at the time.

    Real accidents, in the context of crashes, being a situation no one has any control over, are extremely rare.
    Last edited by CommuterRun; 05-22-08 at 02:51 AM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member owenh's Avatar
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    In Aus the coppers are using Collision as there is no such thing as an accident you either broke the law red light etc or were driving innapropriately for the conditions
    there IS ALWAYS someone at fault

  18. #18
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    Main Entry: ac·ci·dent
    Pronunciation: \ˈak-sə-dənt, -ˌdent; ˈaks-dənt\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin accident-, accidens nonessential quality, chance, from present participle of accidere to happen, from ad- + cadere to fall — more at chance
    Date: 14th century
    1 a: an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance b: lack of intention or necessity : chance <met by accident rather than by design>
    2 a: an unfortunate event resulting especially from carelessness or ignorance b: an unexpected and medically important bodily event especially when injurious <a cerebrovascular accident> c: an unexpected happening causing loss or injury which is not due to any fault or misconduct on the part of the person injured but for which legal relief may be sought d—used euphemistically to refer to an involuntary act or instance of urination or defecation
    3: a nonessential property or quality of an entity or circumstance <the accident of nationality>
    Tom

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    Why do we call it an accident?

    Its all about the spin. One of the first things I learned as a practicing lawyer is that defense attorneys in personal injury cases always call it an "accident" in front of a jury. It makes it seem like its something inevitable that the defendant could not prevent and therefore the defendant is not responsible for.

    Plaintiff's attorneys, on the other hand, always refer to it as a crash or collission. It paints a vivid image in the minds of jurors of twisted metal and mangled bodies.
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  20. #20
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
    Why do we call it an accident?

    Its all about the spin. One of the first things I learned as a practicing lawyer is that defense attorneys in personal injury cases always call it an "accident" in front of a jury. It makes it seem like its something inevitable that the defendant could not prevent and therefore the defendant is not responsible for.

    Plaintiff's attorneys, on the other hand, always refer to it as a crash or collission. It paints a vivid image in the minds of jurors of twisted metal and mangled bodies.

    An excellent response. Without going into the dictionary (whichever one happens to have the "proper" definition) or insulting anyone you have pretty much defined the two sides of this discussion.

  21. #21
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    The NHTSA calls them "incidents". They reserve the term "accident" for an event that is beyond anyone's control and no one is to blame.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order View Post
    Sigh. Another legal illiterate attempting to teach law.
    If I go to law school, will they teach me to be a jerk, too? I find it mildly amusing that you even bring up "law." Aren't we just talking about words? The dictionary definition of a word contains only half its value. The word's connotation also has very strong influence on its perceived meaning.

    We refer to children wetting their shorts as having an "accident." It's no big deal and sometimes it is even cute. So why are we applying the same word to a situation where a multiple-ton vehicle strikes another object, whether is be another multiple-ton vehicle, a pedestrian, bicyclist, animal, etc. The second situation is a big deal.

    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
    Its all about the spin.
    However, spin connotes and denotes intent. I don't think the average person, when referring to a collision as an accident, is intentionally misrepresenting the facts. Isn't it more of a learned behavior.

  23. #23
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    Because it is possible to do everything right, and still get into a collision. Now, I am not saying this is how most collisions occur, but some of them are like that.

    I once turning in front of a car. It was a sky blue car the disappeared into the horizon. I looked straight at it but the image processing portion of my brain did not register it.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tabor View Post
    Because it is possible to do everything right, and still get into a collision. Now, I am not saying this is how most collisions occur, but some of them are like that.
    I completely agree. But why do we tend to refer to all collisions as accidents?

  25. #25
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by darksiderising View Post
    I completely agree. But why do we tend to refer to all collisions as accidents?
    Because nobody gets in the car thinking "gee, I think I'll go out and get involved in a collision today." It is by definition an accident with the few exceptions of psychotic people that decide to intentionally ram into their ex-spouse's car or body.
    Tom

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