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The word “accident” may be going out of style

Some advocates are pushing journalists and policymakers to stop using the word 'accident' when describing a car crash, believing that the word minimizes the responsibility of the person who caused the crash. With many car crashes being the result of drunken or distracted driving, these advocates may have a point, although the practical implications of switching from 'accident' to 'crash' remain to be seen.  

Those who don't like the word 'accident' believe that the word implies that motor vehicle crashes are beyond anyone's control, when in fact, drinking and driving is a choice, as is texting while driving. Some advocates believe that by substituting the word 'crash,' people will take the dangers of driving more seriously, instead of chalking up each injury as the logical conclusion of a series of actions that couldn't have been prevented. 

An article in The New York Times points out that the word 'accident' was favored initially by manufacturers as a way to downplay their own responsibility and liability for injuries sustained by their workers. The word 'accident' effectively shifted blame to individual workers, implying that there was nothing that could have been done to prevent the injury. 

When you get a lawyer on your side to fight for compensation after a car crash, that lawyer should firmly believe that what happened wasn't a pure accident; rather, that negligence on the part of the other driver was to blame. If society moves away from the 'accident' paradigm to the 'crash' paradigm, perhaps more people will start to think like lawyers. And hopefully more drivers would take responsibility for the choices they make behind the wheel. 

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