There are hundreds of reasons why car and truck accidents happen. But, when they do happen, they tend to take the same basic forms over and over. Whether they take place on high-speed highways or low-speed city streets, here is an overview of the most common types of car and truck accidents that cause injuries or death.
A head-on collision—when another vehicle drives headfirst into the front of another car—is a terrifying experience. The drivers of each vehicle can often see each other as their vehicles crash, and the resulting accident can be deadly. While head-on motor vehicle collisions account for only a small portion of overall accidents in Texas, they account for over 10 percent of all accident fatalities.
Head-on collisions happen most often on two-lane roads, and they are often caused by speeding drivers who lose control of their vehicles while trying to brake suddenly. The most common types of injuries in head-on collisions include:
- Soft-tissue injuries
- Fractured or broken bones
- Joint dislocations
Typically, the knees, hips, thighs, and feet are affected. Injuries to these areas occur because they often absorb the impact of the crash. Injuries to the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) or MCL (medial collateral ligament) are also common.
Head-on collisions result in death and very serious injury mainly because the combined speed of the two vehicles magnifies the impact. For example, if two cars are traveling towards each other at only 35 mph, a head-on collision will have a force of 70 mph. As you might imagine, there is a big difference between striking an object at 35 mph and striking one at 70 mph. Additionally, if head-on collision accident victims were not wearing a seat belt, they risk being partially or completely ejected from the vehicle during a crash. Ejection from a vehicle during an accident carries a 70 percent fatality rate, and if the victim survives, he or she can still sustain serious injury.
When a vehicle crashes into another vehicle from behind, it’s usually referred to as “rear-ending.” This type of accident often happens when a driver brakes suddenly or a distracted driver fails to notice stopped traffic ahead. The impact from a rear-end collision can throw drivers and passengers violently forward and backward, especially at high speeds.
Like head-on collisions, rear-end collisions can cause broken bones and injuries to joints, often affecting the hands, arms, shoulders, and chest. Facial injuries are also common as the head is thrown forward in the accident or as airbags deploy.
Also sometimes called side-impact crashes, T-bone accidents are often caused by drivers running red lights or blowing through stop signs, causing them to run into the side of another vehicle. When cars strike each other at the front or back bumpers, the cars will absorb most of the impact. But there’s surprisingly little protection for passengers when an accident strikes the side of a vehicle. Side-impact crashes often cause fatal injuries because the sides of a vehicle are not as well equipped to handle impact. Cars are designed with spaces at the front and back to protect the passengers in a crash, called “crumple zones.” Unfortunately, there is no buffer room on a car’s sides. Many vehicles also lack a side pillar, or a steel beam between the doors, to absorb the force of a crash. Older cars may not have side curtain airbags to protect the backseat passenger’s heads from hitting the windows in an impact.
Backseat passengers are especially at risk in a T-bone accident. Unfortunately, people riding in the backseat are often children, teenagers, and the elderly, who are all statistically more at risk for bodily injury in a serious impact.
“Clipping” or “Sideswipe” Accidents
When two cars are going the same direction, but there is a side impact, it is often called a “sideswipe” or “clipping” accident. This kind of accident isn’t always serious, and the outcome is often property damage to both vehicles. However, sideswipe accidents can be especially dangerous at high speeds because it can cause either driver to lose control or leave the roadway.
Many drivers turn left into a lane of traffic without checking for people in the crosswalk. Other drivers regularly ignore marked bike lanes or pedestrian warnings. Whatever the reason, accidents between unprotected people and heavy cars and trucks take place all the time. These accidents cause serious and even deadly injuries to pedestrians, bicyclists, and others who may be present at crosswalks, on sidewalks, and in intersections.
Even accidents that happen at low speeds can be very serious for someone on foot or on a bike. Head injuries, brain injuries, broken bones, back and neck injuries, and other serious injuries are common for the person hit. The drivers in these accidents often walk away unharmed.
Some trucks, SUVs, and other large vehicles are so heavy and awkward on the road that even a small impact can have fatal consequences. Larger vehicles involved in an impact can roll and cause a much more serious accident that affects even drivers in other lanes. These “rollover” accidents are notoriously deadly. Each year, thousands of people die in rollover accidents across the country, with hundreds losing their lives in Texas alone. Over 280,000 rollover accidents are reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration each year, and over 10,000 people die annually. Learn more about surviving a rollover crash.
There are many factors that can cause a rollover accident. The type of vehicle plays a part, as well as the speed of the driver, the condition of the road, and other factors. For example, SUVs are prone to rolling over, as are 18-wheelers. Driver errors, such as speeding and alcohol use, are the most common cause of rollover accidents, and most rollover accidents occur in areas where the speed limit is 55 mph or higher. The majority of rollover crashes happen during routine driving maneuvers, such as driving straight or negotiating a curve.
Rollover accidents can be violent, and it is not uncommon for there to be fatal injuries. Occupants are thrown violently in the cab of the vehicle or may be ejected. Rollover accidents often affect several lanes of traffic. Other serious injuries resulting from rollover crashes include broken bones, head injuries, spinal cord damage, and neck and back injuries.
Underride accidents are an issue mostly with large trucks that are stopped or that brake suddenly. When a smaller car rear-ends the vehicle at high speed, the car can become lodged under the larger vehicle. In these “underride” accidents, the roof and windshield of the smaller car typically collapse. Unfortunately, underride collisions often prove fatal for the smaller vehicle’s driver and passengers.
Multiple-vehicle accidents might include a combination of T-bone impacts, head-on impacts, sideswipes, and more. In fact, in accidents that involve multiple cars, determining the initial cause or assigning negligence becomes very difficult. Although you may have been rear-ended by one vehicle, it can take sophisticated investigation and accident reconstruction to determine exactly what happened with all the vehicles involved and why that driver hit you.
Getting Help If You’ve Been Hurt in a Wreck
Serious car accidents can happen when a vehicle is in motion on the highway, making a turn on city streets, or even stopped at a traffic light. However, no matter where or how an accident happened, it’s important to find out about your family’s legal rights if you were injured or a loved one was killed. If another driver's negligence caused your accident, you could be compensated for your injuries or for the loss of your loved one.
To find out more about your rights after being injured in a car accident, get your free copy of The Truth About Texas Car, Truck, and Motorcycle Accident Cases. This book reveals not only your rights after an accident, but also how the insurance companies can use your own words or medical records against you to minimize your claim. It can be an eye-opening read for the victims of car accidents, and we encourage you to check it out. To request your copy, or to get immediate help with your concerns, call VB Attorneys today at 1-877-724-7800.