Difference Between Accident and Incident


Main Difference

Accident and incident are two separate words which are often mixed up in their meanings and used incorrectly. Hence, there is a need for understanding the basic difference between an accident and an incident. An accident can be considered to be any unfortunate event which results in the loss of goods, kinds or life. It is an unplanned event which can cause a major loss to the individuals involved. On the other hand, incidents are anything that occurs. This thing can have either positive or negative implications and may be planned or unplanned. Therefore, accident and incident are two different words with different spheres of usage and the differences must be remembered.

Comparison Chart

Accident is always unfortunate and negative.Incident can be either negative or positive.
Accident is something that occurs and causes the loss of life, kinds or goods.Incident may or may not involve the loss of things.
The accident is always unplanned and preferred to be avoided.An incident can be planned or unplanned, both.
As accident is not intentional, it can be called a result of an error.An incident can be either intentional or unintentional, and hence, it is not the result of an error.
All accidents are incidents.Not all incidents are accidents.

What is Accident?

Accident can be described to be any mishap that occurs due to the error of one party and can cause harm to either the mishap creator or both the miscreant and the effected bodies involved. These unfortunate events can also lead to the loss of life, or goods and kind. There can be various kinds of accidents where a human cannot always be held responsible. For example, a car hit by a truck is an accident caused by human activity but a machine failing in the factory and workers losing their lives is an accident caused by a non-living object. Both of the cases are variations of an accident itself.


What is Incident?

Incident can be described to be anything that happens, be it positive or negative. Any event that occurs and has a significance for even a moment, it is an incident. It can also be of various kinds, with the cause of incident varying widely, right from human activities to the cosmic effects. But be it any case, the event is considered to be an incident. The incident can be either intentional or unintentional. For example, if two people are shouting and fighting with each other and end up getting arrested, their arrest is an incident which is intentional as both the parties decided to fight and end up there. But if a man slips on a banana peel, it is also an incident which is completely unintentional.

Key Differences

  1. An accident is always considered big as it involves the loss of one way or the other but an incident may be big or small and may not lead to the loss of anything.
  2. An accident is always an incident, but not all incidents can be called accidents.
  3. An accident is always unintentional as no one tends to incur death upon himself/herself intentionally. If the accident gets intentional, then it has various names like suicide and murder, based upon the nature of the event. But an incident can be both intentional and unintentional, and may not lead to the severities like a death in every case.
  4. An accident is never funny, but incidents can also have the humorous implications sometimes. The humor quotient in an accident is absolutely null, but that of an incident has a probable chance.
  5. An accident is always the result of an error. It is a human or machinery activity which is caused by the fault of either of the parties. But incidents are not always the results of error and can very well be considered to be planned happening.
  6. An accident will always be accompanied by the loss or damage of something, but not all incidents imply towards any damage taking place. They are mere events happening, which can range from being funny to tragic.
  7. Grief, guilt or sadness will always follow an accident, but this may not be the case with incidents. As incidents deal with various emotions, they can equally have various resultant expressions as well.


To sum up, it can be said that accidents test the mortality of any living or non-living object, whereas incidents can have several different implications and it may not always result into something sad and unfortunate. The accidents are actually completely unplanned whereas incidents can be either planned or unplanned and are therefore less hazardous than an accident. Hence, with this understanding, the usage of accident and incident can also be separated, and simple grammatical errors can be avoided.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson