Why Words Matter
In both Arizona and Florida, when the police show up to a motor vehicle crash they fill out a “crash report” not an accident report. “Accident” is a DEFENSE word embraced by the insurance industry that strengthens their case. The word “accident” adds the element of “intent” which is not an element of negligence (more on that below). Personal injury attorneys do a great disservice to their clients when they buy into the idea that their client had an accident.
Accidents don’t just happen… unless by a true act of God. As personal Injury attorneys are not “accident” attorneys we are “negligence” attorneys. What’s negligence? That’s a funny word that’s not used in everyday conversation, but it means someone was not “reasonably safe” or “careful.”
Here is why calling your crash or injury an “accident” is bad for you. Accidents are no one’s fault… they just happened. Act of God types of things, i.e. lightning strike.
The legal standard for prevailing in an injury case is that the Defendant was “negligent”, i.e. they were not reasonably safe or careful, that the tortfeasor (person causing the injury) did something wrong or failed to do something that a reasonable person in a similar circumstance would have done.
Reasonable people stop at red lights and stop signs. When someone chooses to run a stop sign or red light and crash into someone or something they are negligent!
A reasonable driver doesn’t text on his phone while driving. When someone texts on their phone while driving and causes a crash they are negligent!
A reasonable property owner makes sure his property is safe and there are no dangerous conditions. Property owners that never inspect their property and don’t fix easily identifiable and dangerous conditions are negligent.
Just ask Siri or Google what an accident is?
“An unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly an unintentionally typically resulting in damage and injury.”
“An event that happens by chance and that is without apparent or deliberate cause?”
Do either of those definitions line up with people speeding, running red lights or stop signs, or failing to keep their property safe? Of course not.
We handle cases where it was “foreseeable” that the defendant’s conduct would lead to someone getting injured. In other words, the defendants acted in such a way that it was foreseeable they were going to cause injury and hurt someone through their actions or inactions.
The insurance industry loves the word “accident” because “accident” means, unintentional, i.e. lacking “intent.” “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Every school yard kid by the age of 4-5 knows that if they tell their teacher, mom or dad it was an “accident” that they didn’t mean to do it, it is more likely to result in reduced consequences or no consequences at all, MUSIC TO THE INSURANCE COMPANIES EARS.