Types of car accidents

12 minute read Published on Jun 10, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

Close-up of the shattered glass of a passenger window

Getting into a car accident can be a frightening experience. Thankfully, not all auto collisions are severe in nature. Although some of the most common car accidents can be very serious, such as rollovers or T-bone accidents, others, such as fender benders, are far less likely to result in injury. Below, we outline a few different types of car accidents, as well as what the most common injuries are and how to look out for them after getting into a collision.

A breakdown of the most common types of car accidents

There are multiple categories and types of car accidents, ranging from head-on collisions to sideswipe collisions. We break down a few of the most common types of auto accidents below:

Head-on collisions

Head-on collisions are one of the most dangerous categories of collisions and are more likely to be fatal than other types. As the name suggests, these occur when two vehicles travelling in opposite directions collide with one another. Since they primarily involve the fronts of each vehicle, the odds of injury are much higher.

Specifically, injuries that might arise from a head-on collision are whiplash, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, back and neck injuries, soft tissue injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and serious cuts or lacerations. Knee injuries and a broken collarbone are common in head-on collisions.

Rear-end collisions

Rear-end collisions occur when one vehicle collides with the vehicle in front of them, i.e. the front of one car crashes into the back of another. A fender bender can be an example of a rear-end collision. These types of collisions vary in severity and largely depend on how fast the two cars were travelling at the time of the collision. That said, injuries such as whiplash, soft tissue injuries, and traumatic brain injuries are still possible since the occupants’ bodies in the car that is hit will usually be jolted forward and then backward in this type of collision.

Side impact collision

Side impact collisions are another particularly dangerous accident. The prime example of a side impact collision is a T-bone accident, which is when one car hits another car straight on from the side, forming the shape of a T. These accidents can be fatal since there is generally less protection for the driver or passengers on the sides of the car. Other injuries that may result from a side impact collision include back injuries, soft tissue injuries, neck injuries, head and traumatic brain injuries, pelvic injuries, and abdominal injuries.

Sideswipe accidents

Sideswipe accidents are another category of car accidents to know about. They occur when two cars, typically two cars that are travelling in the same direction beside one another, collide. This usually happens when one or both cars accidentally veer out of their lane, whether they are attempting to merge and don’t see the other car beside them or are simply distracted and don’t realize that they’ve veered out of their lane.

No matter the reason, sideswipe collisions can be dangerous, not only due to the initial impact of the two cars colliding from the side but also because of what happens after. Since a car crashing into your car from the side, and often at high speed, will likely come as a huge shock that the driver doesn’t see coming, they may be so startled that they react to the collision by braking suddenly or swerving into another lane. Therefore, what begins as a sideswipe collision can easily end up turning into another type of collision involving additional vehicles or people.

Please note that head-on sideswipe accidents are possible. These are extremely dangerous and occur when two cars travelling in the opposite direction in adjacent lanes accidentally collide on the side as they pass by one another.

Common injuries that arise from sideswipe accidents include whiplash, broken bones, internal organ damage, spinal cord damage, head injuries, and traumatic brain injuries.

Single vehicle accidents

Single-vehicle accidents can take many forms. However, what they all have in common is that they involve just one car. This means that all of the collisions mentioned above do not count as single-vehicle accidents. The most common single-vehicle car accidents are with animals, grounded objects, such as a tree, lamppost, or guard rail, or debris or cargo that’s fallen onto the road.

For instance, if you were driving impaired and accidentally hit a tree on your drive home, but no cars or pedestrians were impacted, this would be considered a single-vehicle accident. The same goes for if you were driving home at dusk and collided with a deer. As long as yours is the only car involved, it will be considered a single-vehicle collision.

These collisions range in severity. Depending on where the accident takes place and how fast you were travelling at the time of the accident, you could walk away with only minor injuries and property damage. However, your car could also end up rolling over and being severely damaged if you hit a large enough object.

Single-vehicle collisions are more likely to be head-on collisions, which means that the following injuries are most likely to occur: whiplash, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, back and neck injuries, soft tissue injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and serious cuts or lacerations.

Multi-vehicle car accidents

Multi-vehicle car accidents are the opposite of single-vehicle collisions in that they involve not just two vehicles but three or more vehicles. For this reason, multi-vehicle accidents are among the most serious types of car accidents.

The more cars that are involved in the collision, the more likely that property damage and injury are. It also means that there will be more insurance companies involved and multiple personal injury coverage claims.

These types of accidents most commonly start with a rear-end collision that has a chain reaction, creating multiple rear-end collisions one after the other. Unfortunately, the occupants of the vehicle that is sandwiched between the back and front vehicle of this chain reaction situation are the most likely to suffer injury.

Since determining fault in a multi-vehicle accident can be complex, be sure to reach out to your car insurance broker to find out what your policy covers in case you are found liable and need to file a liability car insurance claim.

Rollover accidents

Rollover accidents can have serious repercussions, both for your vehicle and for you. These accidents typically occur at high speeds or in dangerous areas with more elevation. For the first scenario to take place, you would need to be travelling at a very high speed in order for the force of a collision to cause your car to roll over. Meanwhile, for the second scenario to occur, you would need to have gotten into an accident next to a ditch or steep dropoff that would cause your car to roll over if it veered in that direction.

To make matters worse, rollover collisions can result in the occupants of the vehicle being ejected from the car with such force that they travel through the front windshield. These types of accidents are also more likely to result in vehicle fires since it is more likely for fluid to spill out of the car.

No matter how or why a rollover car accident occurs, the occupants of the car can suffer all kinds of serious injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and soft tissue injuries.

Blind spot accidents

Blind spot accidents can take many forms, though they result from the same problem: A driver fails to adequately check their blind spot before turning, merging, or changing lanes, and as a result, they collide with another car. Blind spot accidents often look like sideswipe accidents since sideswipe collisions commonly happen when one driver is attempting to change lanes but forgets to do a shoulder check.

Blind spot accidents are dangerous no matter who or what they involve, but they are especially dangerous when sharing the road with motorcycles or sharing the road with bicycles since these modes of transportation have far less protection than motor vehicles and are smaller, making them even more likely to end up in a driver’s blind spot.

Low-speed car accidents

Low-speed car accidents are less severe than other types of car accidents on this list, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still have an impact. Even if you aren’t travelling fast, you are still driving a car that weighs thousands of pounds. As a result, whatever it hits, whether that be a median, another vehicle, or a cyclist, can have major repercussions. The most common injuries that arise from low-speed collisions are whiplash, neck and back injuries, severe bruising, broken bones, and facial injuries.

Merging accidents

Merging accidents occur when one car attempts to merge and accidentally hits another. The reality is that merging and changing lanes, especially when driving at high speeds or on a crowded highway, can be difficult, even for the most experienced drivers. Merging successfully requires a shoulder check to make sure there is nothing in your blind spot, glancing in your rear-view and side-view mirrors, and scanning the road ahead of you.

In other words, there is a lot going on, which can make this driving maneuver overwhelming for some. Since merging typically occurs at high speeds, the occupants of a car that is involved in a merging accident can suffer serious injuries. Merging accidents usually end up taking the form of sideswipe accidents or rear-end accidents.

Truck and commercial vehicle collisions

One last type of car accident worth discussing today is truck and commercial vehicle collisions. These are unique in that they involve large trucks or commercial vehicles, such as vans or semis. Commercial vehicles tend to be much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, which makes accidents that involve them particularly dangerous. If your sedan were to get struck by a commercial vehicle, your car would suffer the brunt of the damage.

In addition, you would likely suffer all kinds of injuries, including burns, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and traumatic brain injuries. The accident could even be fatal for you. In addition, if the commercial vehicle you strike is carrying harmful chemicals or gasoline at the time of the accident, there could be additional hazards, such as exposure to toxic chemicals or the possibility of a fire or explosion.

Serious injuries from car accidents

There are many different types of injuries that can arise from a car accident. They vary from mild, such as whiplash, to severe, like paralysis. Below, we outline a few of the most common injuries that can result from a collision:

  • Whiplash
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Burns
  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Internal injuries
  • Psychological injuries

Given the number of possible injuries that a person can suffer in a car accident, it is crucial that you seek medical attention following the accident. Even if you do not believe that you are injured, being checked out by a medical professional is still recommended. Some injuries do not present themselves right away. Plus, it’s possible that you are too shocked by the accident to register the full extent of your injuries.

In addition to visiting your doctor or going to the emergency room after the car accident, monitor yourself in the days and weeks to come for the following symptoms, which could be a sign of a wide range of car accident injuries:

  • Fatigue
  • Stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle spasms or cramps
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Bruising, redness, or discolouration
  • Tenderness or sensitivity to touch
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Changes in personality or behaviour
  • Vision issues
  • Dizziness
  • Tinnitus (ringing ears)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nightmares
  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating
  • Appetite loss

If you end up with a car accident injury, reach out to a BrokerLink insurance advisor who can help you file a claim with your insurance provider. We can guide you through the process of submitting a bodily injury claim, as well as cancelling a personal injury claim if need be.

The most common causes of car accidents

Now that you know about some of the most common types of car accidents, we think it would be helpful to discuss the most common causes of collisions. This way, you can do your best to avoid getting into an accident in the future. As you will soon see, many of the most frequent causes of car accidents are the result of driver error or poor behaviour on behalf of the driver, which is what makes safe driving so important. You can find a full list of safe driving tips here or contact BrokerLink for more advice:

Distracted driving

Distracted driving is a surefire way to end up in an accident. When you drive while distracted, your attention is not focused on the road, and that’s when mistakes happen. Taking your eyes off of the road for even a few seconds can be enough to end up colliding with another vehicle - or worse, a pedestrian. Distracted driving is anything from texting and driving to eating, drinking, or smoking while driving. Tuning the radio, setting your GPS, talking to someone in the backseat, or adjusting the heater or air conditioner may also count as distracted driving.


Speeding is one of the most common causes of collisions. This dangerous driving behaviour is not only illegal, but it vastly increases the odds that you will get into a car accident. It also increases the odds that the accident you get into will have severe repercussions since crashes that occur at higher speeds usually involve more bodily harm and worse property damage.

When you drive above the speed limit, you give yourself less time to react to the situations in front of you and run the risk of losing control of your car. Avoid this at all costs by paying attention to posted speed limit signs and obeying them.

Impaired driving

Impaired driving, also known as drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, is another way to increase your odds of getting into an accident. When you drive impaired, your reaction time, coordination, vision, concentration, and tracking abilities are all negatively impacted.

This significantly affects your ability to drive safely. There is a reason that drunk driving is illegal in Canada. Never get behind the wheel if you’ve had too much to drink. Call a taxi or a trusted friend who can get you home safely.

Aggressive driving

Aggressive driving is another common cause of car accidents in Canada. This type of driving, which you may also know as road rage, can manifest itself in various ways. A few of the most dangerous ways are when it leads to speeding, changing lanes erratically and without signalling, and tailgating. All of these behaviours give you and other drivers less time to react, increasing the odds of an accident.

Fatigued driving

Driving while tired can have serious consequences, just like aggressive driving or drunk driving. While not illegal in the same way that drunk driving is, fatigue can impact your ability to concentrate and your vision since your eyelids may grow heavy, and you may even start to close your eyes.

To avoid driving while fatigued, avoid taking any medications that may make you drowsy before driving. You should also make sure that you are as well-rested as possible. If you feel tired during or just before driving, have a cup of coffee, take a power nap, or get some fresh air to wake you up.

Bad weather

Last but not least, bad weather commonly causes collisions in Canada. When the weather conditions result in reduced visibility or less traction on the road, cars are more likely to collide. Some of the most dangerous types of weather include fog, rain, hail, and snow. However, the sun can also be dangerous as sun glare can make it difficult to see what’s in front of you.

Contact BrokerLink for more information on the most common types of car accidents

You can discover even more information about the most common types of car accidents, as well as their causes and the injuries that may arise from them, by contacting BrokerLink today.

A BrokerLink insurance advisor can also explain what types of auto insurance are mandatory in your province and help you add the following coverages to your policy:

Reach out to BrokerLink today for your free car insurance quote!

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