Accidents of all kinds happen every day! There are all kinds of accidents – including ones that can cause serious harm to the people and things involved.
If you are describing something that happens without your expecting it to, here are some phrases and collocations that are commonly used to describe accidents!
Adjectives + Accident
The following collocations are common adjectives that describe accidents.
1. Dreadful accident
A dreadful accident is one that is completely bad and serious. The people involved may be harmed a lot, and the incident can cause great fear and discomfort for them. This is not something that you would want to wish for your best friend.
- Park was involved in a dreadful accident, but luckily, she is okay.
- Betty almost caused a dreadful accident when she spilled oil on the stairs, and people could not see that they were slippery.
2. Horrific accident
An accident that is horrific is one that is horrible. It can shock you completely and make you step back, even if you have seen something like that before. As a result, it is often an accident that causes great harm to the people or things involved.
- There was a horrific accident on the highway, so all the people going to work were delayed significantly.
- After the horrific accident at the amusement park, the company was forced to shut down its rides.
3. Serious accident
A serious accident is one that requires immediate attention. The person or things involved are likely hurt in a way that cannot be fixed easily. If someone is in a serious accident, they probably need medical attention right away to prevent any further harm from happening to them.
- After Tammy got in that serious accident, she had to stay in the hospital for two months before she completely recovered.
- There were some clues that made the detective think what she was looking at was not a serious accident, but actually something staged to look like an accident.
4. Tragic accident
An accident that is tragic is one that hinders the potential of the person that it happens to. It is almost always one that results in the death or serious disability of a person. In addition, it will also usually cause the death of a child or young person, who is said to have a lot of “potential that was left unfulfilled”.
- Also killed in the tragic accident were Marley and Jane, a young couple that had just had their first child together.
- When describing what happened to his cat, Mike could only say that it was a very tragic accident before he would start crying.
5. Fatal accident
Any accident that results in a death – always of a person – is a fatal accident.
- Thank goodness everyone got out alive and it was not a fatal accident.
- The fatal accident at the chemistry laboratories started when the professor forgot to turn off the burner in his lab and left for lunch.
6. Minor accident
A minor accident is one that is small. While it can shake up the people involved, it usually leaves them unharmed. In some cases, they may only have just minor injuries.
- The minor accident that James got into the first time he drove by himself made him more cautious behind the wheel.
- Even though there is severe damage to the car and buildings surrounding you, it was only a minor accident because you are thankfully safe.
7. Freak accident
A freak accident is one that comes as a complete surprise. It does not seem like it should happen, and no one would expect something like this to occur. An example might be a child finding their parents’ hand gun and discharging it at someone.
Or, the freak accident could be someone walking along the road and not paying attention, only to fall through an uncovered manhole in the ground. These things are not accidents that you would expect at all, like a car accident or something that happens if you eat bad food.
- The freak accident near the school left all the teachers and children frightened, so the administration decided to allow everyone to take a couple days off from school.
- No one ever expects to be involved in a freak accident; they just happen.
8. Near accident
If you get into a near accident, what happens is that a major accident almost happens. The child from the above example might find their parents’ hand gun, but they may not shoot it at anyone. Or, they are caught and the gun is taken away before the child can do any damage. However, it was very nearly something terrible.
- My heart is still pounding so quickly from the near accident I experienced on my way to work.
- Rebecca Smith caused a near accident when she did not pay attention while driving because she was eating instead.
9. Car/boat/plane/swimming/anything accident
Whatever type of accident you are involved in, you can describe it by putting the name of the thing at the beginning of the phrase. If you get into an accident while driving in a car, you can call that a car accident.
If someone is hurt while they swim in a pool, that is a swimming accident. Almost every type of accident can be described this way.
- The traffic news in the morning always has information about car accidents and streets to avoid on the road to work.
- He was a professional swimmer, so no one expected him to die in a swimming accident.
10. Climbing accident
One of the most common types of accidents for people who love adventure is a climbing accident. This typically happens when someone is trying to climb a mountain or is going hiking. Instead of everything going as planned, they are hurt or die in the process.
- Many climbing accidents happen because people do not believe that they have limits, or keep pushing themselves even after they pass these limits.
- The tricky thing about avoiding a climbing accident is being able to bring all your gear, hoping that it works without a problem, and remembering how to use everything.
11. Pure accident
If something happens by pure accident, that means that it happens without your expecting it to. You are usually completely surprised by it. Instead, you just happen to be in the right place at the right time.
- It was pure accident that I ran into my old college sweetheart when I moved to a new city.
- Polly filed the wrong taxes by pure accident, but now the mistake is costing her a ton of time and energy to fix.
12. Sheer accident
Sheer accident and pure accident are essentially one and the same. If something happens by sheer accident, it was neither planned nor thought of as a possibility. It just happened that way.
- Honestly, it was by sheer accident that I ended up in this city with this job; I did not expect to be working in another country at all!
- Some of the most powerful stories are so powerful because so many key things occur by sheer accident.
Verb + Accident
1. To be (involved) in an accident
If an accident happens to you, you are in an accident, or are involved in an accident. These two ways of expressing it mean the same thing.
If you are involved in an accident, it means that you are a part of it – whether you caused it or are a victim is unclear. However, it is evident that something accidental has happened to you.
- When Dexter heard that his wife had been involved in an accident, he immediately tried to figure out whether she was alright or not.
- Millie told everyone that she was involved in an accident, but what she did not tell other people was that she was the one to cause it.
2. To have an accident
If you accidentally do something bad or wrong, you have an accident. This can involve being a part of an accident in a car, or simply spilling juice on the floor. In some cases, having an accident is a euphemism.
In other words, it is a nice way to say that someone went to the bathroom in a place that was not the toilet. This is common for children who are still learning to ask to go to the bathroom when they need to.
- Mary had a small accident at school today, but the nurse helped her right away.
- Trevor had an accident when he was cleaning the pool, but luckily there was a worker who saw him and got help for him.
3. To cause an accident
If you cause an accident, if means that you did something that leads to the accident. It could be intentional or unintentional, but either way you are responsible for the damage it causes. This is usually a person or a situation (such as traffic).
- The driver who was not paying attention while on the road caused a major accident, leaving many people injured.
- I know you are looking for someone to blame, but this is really a case where no one caused the accident; it just happened.
4. To prevent an accident
If you stop an accident from happening, you prevent an accident. As with almost anything else, it is better to prevent an accident than to clean up after it happens.
- Thank goodness Ben noticed that the computer was inching off the desk, and could move it to prevent an accident.
- The police officer prevented an accident when she stopped the driver from turning left instead of right.
5. To survive an accident
If something happens to you but you are able to still living after it, you have survived an accident. This is usually referring to a fatal accident, such as a serious car accident that leaves many other people dead.
If you are able to walk away from it (even if you have to be carried away), you have survived.
- Bret decided to completely reevaluate his life after surviving a serious accident.
- Sam thought that he was incredibly lucky to survive the accident, but his best friend was not so lucky.
Accident + Verb
1. Accidents happen
This phrase is one that is commonly used by itself, and stands alone. Instead of starting a sentence, saying that accidents happen is a way of shrugging off some bad accident that happens.
For example, if you son spills coffee all over your laptop, you have two options. You could yell at him and get incredibly angry.
Or, you could simply say accidents happen and accept it. This way, you can decide to move on since there is nothing you could do about the situation anyways.
- Leona expected her father to be angry when she told him what had happened, but he surprised her by responding, “Don’t worry about it. Accidents happen!”
- Moses used to be very hotheaded, inclined to yell when things went wrong. However, he has been much calmed and saying things like “accidents happen” when Anne made a major mistake!
2. An accident occurs
Occur is another verb that you can use to describe an accident that happens.
- The accident occurred at Krystal’s house, so the police department went over there to investigate.
- Paul did not know that there was an accident that occurred in the Main Building of campus, so he was confused to see all the security surrounding the building entrances.
3. Accident takes place
To take place is another synonym for happen and occur.
- Francis was filming when the accident took place, so he had footage that he could show the detective as evidence.
- Rolando saw the serious accident take place, and had to go to therapy with a psychiatrist to help him cope with the trauma.
Accident in Phrases
1. By accident
If something happens without someone meaning to do it, it happens by accident. While accidents are often thought of as bad things, something that happens by accident can be either good or bad.
- Shawna threw away Kent’s important papers by accident.
- It was only by accident that Marion and his family showed up at the farmer’s market, where he saw his friend Sophie performing a dance routine.
2. To be no accident that
If it is no accident that something happens, it means that someone made the thing happen that way for a specific reason. This could be any reason; the important thing is that the situation was designed, and did not happen by chance.
- It was no accident that Jared ended up studying for his PhD at Harvard because he had been working towards that goal his entire life.
- The more that Irma thought about it, the more she became convinced that it was no accident that she ended up with Jack as they had known each other since they were kids.
3. By accident or design
If something happens by accident, it means that it is only by chance that it occurs. On the other hand, if it happens by design, it means that someone deliberately wanted it to happen that way.
In case you are unsure which one it is, you can express your doubt by saying that it does not matter whether the situation came out by accident or design, just that it is the new reality.
- Whether by accident or design, college roommates Joe and Jay ended up as coworkers at the new startup.
- Renee did not care at all whether the big company success happened by accident or design, just that it happened again and again.
4. The scene of an accident
In describing where an accident takes place, you can use the phrase the scene of an accident.
- Even though the death was not discovered until much later, the police still went to the scene of the accident to figure out whether Cameron passed away by accident or design.
- Every time Sheldon makes a mistake, he tries to avoid thinking about it again by avoiding the scene of the accident.
5. An accident involving
To describe the things or people who make up the accident, you can use involve.
- Pat had not heard about the accident involving his wife because he was ignoring his phone while he worked on the big project.
- Hugo was to blame for the accident involving the school bus and 20 children on board, but luckily everyone escaped unharmed.