Unintentional Injuries vs. Intentional Injuries: Definitions & Differences

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  • 0:41 Unintentional Injuries
  • 2:40 Intentional Injuries
  • 4:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

It was an accident! We've all exclaimed that. Accident or not, intentional and unintentional injuries occur on a second by second basis in the U.S. We'll explore which ones result in tragedy most often.

Accidents vs. Intended Acts

My bad! Who hasn't said that before when accidentally causing a problem? That's just the thing; sometimes we harm ourselves or others unintentionally and other times it's very much premeditated. This determination is, many times, the choice that juries have to decide upon, premeditation or lack thereof, in murder trials.

Our lesson won't force you to make such a tough decision, but nonetheless, will confront some hard facts and statistics about unintentional versus intentional injuries and examples of each. This, all thanks to many 2010 stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Unintentional Injuries

Unintentional injuries are harmful acts that occurred without any intention of causing damage to oneself or others. A large proportion of unintentional injuries occur in or around the home and many of these injuries occur as a result of falls, like down the stairs or when someone uses a ladder to fix something. Other than the home, we all know bad things can happen in the dangerous outer world, and the most common places of unintentional injuries outside the home are streets, highways, and recreational areas.

Now, you'd think that accidents resulting in injuries are not all that bad. Yeah, you may fall and break a leg, but you'll survive. Well, not really. It turns out that unintentional injuries cause about two-thirds of all injury deaths in the U.S. every single year! If you're surprised, here are some examples of why this is the case. Motor vehicle crashes, unintentional poisonings, suffocation, drowning, accidental firearm discharges, and burns are just some of the dangers many of us face on a day-to-day basis.

For people aged 65 or older, unintentional falls are the number one cause of unintentional injury death. These falls, whether they end in death or not, end up costing the U.S. tens of billions of dollars in lost work potential and medical care costs for people aged 65 or older, alone.

Those in the age group of 25-64 should be wary of unintentional poisonings with substances at home like chemicals, drugs, and so on. Children and young adults aged 5-24 who die as a result of an unintentional injury mainly do so because of problems sustained from motor vehicle related accidents. And children below the age of five are most at risk for unintentional death via suffocation and drowning, hence the need to watch the kiddies near the tub and pool.

Intentional Injuries

In contrast to unintentional injuries are intentional injuries, which are injuries resulting from purposeful harmful actions upon oneself or others. The difference between the two is clear from the definitions but you'll also find out how different the manners of death are with respect to these categories.

About one-third of all injury related deaths in the U.S. are actually caused by violence. Violence is a term that describes the exercise of force to harm oneself or another person. It's similarly a very unfortunate fact that the majority of these intentional injury deaths occur not by the hands of others, but when a person commits suicide. The three major contributing factors to suicide deaths are firearms, suffocation, and poisoning, in that order.

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