Legal Dictionary


Legal Definition of accident


  1. Unfortunate esp. harmful event, caused unintentionally
  2. Event that is unexpected or without apparent cause

Definition of accident


    French accident, from Latin accīdēns, -dentis, present participle of accīdō ("to happen"); ad + cadere ("to fall").



accident (plural accidents)

  1. Literally, a befalling; an event that takes place without one's foresight or expectation; an undesigned, sudden, and unexpected event; often, an undesigned and unforeseen occurrence of an afflictive or unfortunate character

    to die by an accident

    * Shakespeare, Othello, I-iii:
    Of moving accidents by flood and field.

    * Trench:
    Thou cam'st not to thy place by accident: It is the very place God meant for thee.

  2. (grammar) A property attached to a word, but not essential to it, as gender, number, case.
  3. (military) An unplanned event that results in injury (including death) or occupational illness to person(s) and/or damage to property, exclusive of injury and/or damage caused by action of an enemy or hostile force.
  4. (heraldry) A point or mark which may be retained or omitted in a coat of arms
  5. (logic) A quality or attribute in distinction from the substance, as sweetness, softness.

    * 1902, William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Folio Society 2008, p. 171:
    If they went through their growth-crisis in other faiths and other countries, although the essence of the change would be the same [...], its accidents would be different.

  6. Any accidental property, fact, or relation; an accidental or nonessential

    Beauty is an accident.

    * J. P. Mahaffy:
    This accident, as I call it, of Athens being situated some miles from the sea.

  7. (obsolete) Unusual appearance or effect - Geoffrey Chaucer
  8. (law) casus; such unforeseen, extraordinary, extraneous interference as is out of the range of ordinary calculation.
  9. (transport) An unintended collision or event that causes damage or death.

    There was a huge accident on I5 involving 15 automobiles.
    My insurance is expenive now, mostly because of those two accidents.


  • (event that takes place without foresight or expectation): befalling, chance, contingency, casualty, mishap

Derived terms

  • accidental
  • freak accident

Related terms

  • accidentally

External links

  • accident in Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
  • accident in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
  • accident at OneLook Dictionary Search


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     lex fori
2.     lex situs
3.     lex causae
4.     conclusive presumption
5.     AORO
6.     landed property
7.     lex domicilii
8.     Miranda warning
9.     lex loci delicti commissi
10.     Clayton's Case