When it comes to seeking compensation for an accidental injury, Americans are most likely to file claims over motor vehicle crashes, said a study released Wednesday.

The Rand Corp.'s Institute for Civil Justice said one in 10 Americans annually seek compensation for an injury by filing liability insurance claims and lawsuits or informally negotiating with someone responsible for the accident.About half of the people injured in motor vehicle accidents make some attempt to collect from someone else involved in the accident, the institute study found.

But in cases not related to the workplace or to motor vehicles, 3 percent of those injured file liability claims, which the institute said "seems to flout the widespread notion that Americans are `sue crazy.' "

The $2.3 million study, partly financed with federal grants, was requested by Congress out of concern about the tort liability system. To assess the effectiveness of the system of compensation for accidental injury, more information was needed on the cost of accidental injuries and how well the system protects victims, the report said.

Researchers interviewed people in 26,000 households where someone had suffered economic loss in the previous year from an accident that involved at least one visit to a health care provider or one day of restricted activity. Longer interviews were conducted with 2,800 injured individuals.

The study estimated that nearly one in six Americans, 41 million in 1989, suffer some economic loss from an accidental injury during a year. This does not include fatal injuries, occupational or other diseases associated with exposure to chemicals or other products, or permanent residents in nursing homes.

About 23.4 million people each year receive compensation for their losses - a total of about $109.4 billion.

Nearly 60 percent of these people receive compensation from their health insurance company and 10 percent reported getting payments from their automobile insurance, accident insurance or other policy.