What is a Preventable Collision?

What is a Preventable Collision?

Posted by: Joanne Holcomb on May 9, 2023

The National Safety Council has defined a preventable collision as “a collision in which the driver failed to do everything reasonable to avoid it.”

In terms of motor vehicle accidents, preventability is a problem that frequently arises. Whether or not an accident is deemed preventable could affect your personal injury case, but keep in mind that fault and preventability are two very different things. 

Traffic collisions, preventable or otherwise, can permanently impact a victim’s life. The laws and rules that must be followed after a car accident varies based on where the accident took place and can make pursuing fair financial compensation challenging. 

If you were injured in a preventable traffic collision, reach out to a personal injury lawyer from Local Accident Reports as soon as possible to schedule your free and confidential consultation with one of our experienced car accident attorneys.  

Fault Vs. Preventability

What is a Preventable Collision?

From a legal standpoint, the difference between fault and preventability is:

  • A person at fault for a collision committed some form of negligence that caused others to be injured. The at-fault person might be liable for any injuries and damages.
  • In a preventable collision, a driver failed to execute all reasonable efforts to stop the crash from taking place.  

Fault is a legal phrase that will have a direct influence on whether or not a personal injury case is viable. Preventability is a concept based on the notion of defensive driving. Defensive driving is the ability to evade an accident despite the wrongful or negligent actions of another. If your traffic accident is considered preventable, it can serve to strengthen any subsequent personal injury claim. Conversely, an accident that is considered non-preventable could still be viable based on the relevant facts specific to the case. 

What Are Some Examples Of Preventable Collisions?

So, a car accident is termed preventable if a driver failed to take all practical and appropriate precautionary steps to stop the accident from happening. These necessary steps can include, among others, obeying the posted speed limit, monitoring current traffic conditions, and keeping a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of you.

In the event that a driver breaches their duty of care by failing to observe these types of safety precautions and, as a result, an accident occurs, that accident could be considered preventable. Additionally, the driver could also be held responsible for any injuries and damages since their failure in their duty to drive safely can be regarded as negligence.

Some of the most common preventable collisions include:

Collisions at Intersections

Failing to yield the right-of-way, whether or not a traffic light or stop sign is present, is preventable. To be considered a non-preventable collision, a vehicle would have to be hit in the extreme side or rear while its driver was protected by a stop sign or a traffic light. Regardless of signs, lights, or right-of-way, a driver at an intersection is supposed to yield to any vehicle assuming the right-of-way. Responsible drivers will also be familiar with the turning radius of their vehicles and avoid damaging other cars as they turn. 

Sideswipe Collisions

Drivers are expected to correctly judge distances when they are merging, changing lanes, or exiting a parking lot or driveway so they safely pull out into traffic. They are also supposed to be able to overtake another vehicle and re-enter their original lane of travel once the overtaken vehicle becomes visible in their rearview mirror. Likewise, a driver should prepare to be overtaken by another vehicle by decreasing their speed enough to allow the other vehicle to overtake them safely. 

People often open the doors of parked vehicles unexpectedly, and drivers are expected to anticipate this. This kind of incident is non-preventable only in cases where the door opens as the driver is already passing. A safety-conscious driver knows the dangers of being in another vehicle’s blind spot or having a vehicle in their blind spot for any length of time.

Collisions With Animals and Pedestrians

Collisions involving animals and pedestrians are typically considered preventable collisions, even if the pedestrian suddenly emerged from between parked vehicles. Being aware of young children, bus stops, crowded areas, etc., is important. Collisions involving animals are often preventable because the driver is expected to identify their presence, as indicated by deer crossing signs or driving through farmland and other rural areas. In both of these cases, the crash will only be regarded as non-preventable if a pedestrian was acting so erratically that it would have been impossible for any driver to anticipate their actions or an animal was behaving in an unusual manner or was in an area where animals are not usually seen.

If the driver in question was operating a commercial truck, it is up to the employer to determine if they need to take corrective action or terminate the driver. Those who sustain injuries due to the driver’s actions could be entitled to financial compensation from the trucker or from their employer.

What Are Some Examples Of Non-Preventable Collisions?

Non-preventable collisions are accidents that happen despite a driver’s best attempts at avoiding them. So, if a driver does everything in their power to avoid a collision but is involved in one anyway, that collision might be deemed non-preventable.

Some common forms of non-preventable collisions include:

  • Being hit and injured by a reckless driver
  • Taking all reasonable safety precautions but still skidding into another car during a blizzard
  • Maintaining sufficient night visibility but still hitting a vehicle that ran a stop sign

In these scenarios, the driver would most likely not be held accountable for any damages, but another party might. 

Personal Injury Damages and Preventability

While preventability can certainly lend a degree of support to a personal injury case, it is far more necessary to prove negligence and duty of care. A person who was clearly negligent is able to be sued for damages, whereas someone who merely failed to avoid a collision might not be liable. Either way, it is in your best interests to consult with a car accident lawyer if you were injured in a traffic collision.

Speak with a Lawyer From Local Accident Reports

If you were injured in a traffic collision caused by the negligence of another driver, then you may be eligible to receive damages. At Local Accident Reports, our attorneys have years of experience in handling personal injury lawsuits nationwide and ensuring that our clients get the financial compensation they are entitled to. Give us a call today at (888) 657-1460 to schedule your free consultation and learn what our lawyers recommend for your situation.