Accident vs Incident: Difference and Comparison

“Accident” and “Incident” are two words frequently misunderstood and used interchangeably; nonetheless, these terms are specific and have different meanings.

People try to infer situations that are incidents like accidents and vice-versa. To make things easy and understandable, it is inevitable to understand the differences between an accident and an incident.

Key Takeaways

  1. An accident is an unexpected and unintended event resulting in damage, injury, or death, while an incident refers to any event that disrupts normal operations, whether intended or unintended.
  2. Accidents involve physical harm, while incidents may or may not involve physical harm.
  3. Accidents result from negligence or human error, while various factors can cause incidents.

Accident Vs Incident

An accident is an unexpected and unintentional event that results in harm, injury, damage or loss. It involves a sudden, unforeseen and undesirable occurrence. An incident is an event that has the potential to cause harm or loss but does not result in injury or damage.

Accident Vs Incident

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The word accident has a negative connotation and might result in death or property damage. It refers to a mishap, an unanticipated incident, or an unanticipated scenario, with a negative effect.

The term has also begun to be used in a positive context, where something unexpected can lead to beneficial outcomes.

An incident is an occurrence, a happening. If a fight breaks out in a pub, the police can record it as an “incident” that occurred in that location.

Another situation can be presented as “If there are too many incidents, the liquor license may be revoked.”

Witnesses to a quarrel between an employee and the supervisor may refer to the encounter as “an incident.” The occurrences can be counted.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAccidentIncident
MeaningThe term accident is derived from Latin, meaning “to happen” or “fall upon”.An occurrence or event of something happening due to the result of something else that may be good or bad and can probably cause damage or loss.
Term derivationAccidents at the workplace, car accidents, motorcycle accidents, slips, etc, are a few classifications of accidents.The term incident is derived from Latin meaning “likely to happen, to happen or befall.”
Part of SpeechNounNoun/adjective according to the usage in a sentence.
ClassificationsIncidents are primarily of three types, and they are complex incidents, repetitive incidents, and major incidents.Incidents are primarily of three types, and they are complex incidents, repetitive incidents, and significant incidents.
SynonymsCalamity, casualty, disaster, hazard, mishap, setback, etc.An event, occasion, episode, experience, happening, proceeding, adventure, etc.

What is an Accident?

Accidents happen for a variety of reasons that can’t be predicted.

One can explain with a predicament If a mechanical part fails on a vehicle that has been frequently maintained and the car is involved in an ‘accident.’ In an accident, the investigators will examine the suspected failed item from every viewpoint, including any other information available. 

The failed part is examined and even x-rayed during the investigation. One may argue that the item’s failure was due to metal fatigue, which has never happened before.

If it happened again, however, one could argue that it was not an accident because the risk of failure was now acknowledged.

An accident occurs when a series of circumstances lead to an unforeseen conclusion.

Accidents can be terrible, such as when a car crash kills people, or they can be beneficial, such as when mould grows on a bacterial specimen, leading to the discovery of antibiotics.

When it comes to car accidents and personal injury, it’s popular these days to say that every accident can be avoided, and many emergency responders are promoting “crash” as an alternative word to “accident” only in case when referring to a motor vehicle collision. 

All accidents, according to the theory, can be avoided. Hence, accidents in life, in general, can be prevented.


What is an Incident?

An incident is anything that has occurred most likely outside the typical of a process’ expected outcome. 

A circumstance to explain the term, If two forklift drivers collide in a warehouse’s blind bend portion, the trucks collide, but no one is hurt; that is an event (note not a near miss as the trucks made contact).

After that, an H&S inquiry should look into why it happened, including why it had never happened before and what, if anything, has changed.

It is possible that because there haven’t been any documented occurrences in years, the risk of a collision was overlooked at the time.

In its simplest form, an incident can be defined as an event that occurs, a task that is completed, or labour that is completed favourably. Usually obtained in a predetermined method.

Some people pay the price or receive a reward for an incident; for instance, Yuvraj Singh smashed six sixes in a row; here, the batsman is receiving a compensation for his hard work, and other tiny stories are based on incidents.

Other incidents include a person getting arrested after fighting in a bar. As the incident is terrible, the incident can also be suitable such as a person winning a cash prize in a live show.

Incidents are also unintentional, like a person spilling coffee on his colleague.

Here the person’s intention could be unintentional and didn’t plan beforehand, and there wasn’t any injury or loss; the situation is terrible but is not irrecoverable as in case of an accident.

Incidents are not always harmful as accidents. Incidents can also lead to a whole new direction which can change something in someone’s life.

Main Differences Between Accident And Incidents

  1. An accident describes the nature of a situation, but the incident describes the situation itself.
  1. Accidents don’t involve near-miss situations, whereas incidents involve near-miss situations.
  1. Accidents are always dangerous and could result in a loss but incidents are not always dangerous.
  1. Accidents are incidents but not vice versa.
  1. The word accident has negative connotations whereas the word incident has positive and negative connotations.
Difference Between Accident And Incident

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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