I had an accident.

I have been in an accident.

Although the first sentence seems more common, today I have come across the second sentence and got suprised.

I checked online and saw it frequently used for cars (eg. how to understand if a car has been in an accident)

So, do both sentences have the same meaning?

  • 4
    If you have an accident, it happens to you, e.g. you crash a vehicle, fall over, break something, etc, but if you are in an accident, you might be indirectly involved, for example just be a passenger in a car or other vehicle, or a bystander who was injured. Dec 29 '21 at 19:03
  • 2
    "I had an accident" is also colloquial for the very specific circumstance of losing bladder control. Dec 29 '21 at 21:59

both sentences have a very similar meaning but could be used in slightly different contextualization:

since you mentioned car accidents:

I had a car accident

would rather mean that you have caused a car accident,


I have been in a car accident

indicates that you suffered an accident not caused by yourself

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