You’re stopped in traffic, waiting for a light to change, and without warning, you are struck from behind by another vehicle. Even at low speeds, this type of accident can produce significant injuries. If you are getting rear-ended while stopped in car accident, you’re entitled to damages for your medical bills, lost wages, vehicle damage, and pain and suffering. 

Maho | Prentice, LLP is a Southern California law firm that represents rear-end accident victims on a contingency basis. In most cases, the rear driver is 100% liable for rear-end crashes, so we can pursue full and fair compensation on your behalf. Call today for a free consultation with a dedicated car accident attorney

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California Rear-End Accident Statistics 

According to the Office of Traffic Safety, rear-end collisions were the leading cause of traffic fatalities involving speeding. In fact, in a 2016 report, 35.1% of all speeding accident fatalities were rear-ending accidents. 

Nationally, rear-end accidents account for 29% of all crashes, the number one type of car accident

These statistics indicate that the odds of drivers being rear-ended at some point in their lives are very high. If you’re the victim of a rear-end accident, Maho | Prentice can help. Call today for a free consultation. 

Common Causes of Rear-End Car Accidents

There are many factors that contribute to rear-end collisions. These are some of the most common causes we see in Southern California:

Distracted Driving

The more distractions drivers experience, the greater the chance they will be looking away from the road when the vehicle in front of them has to brake suddenly. In many cases, distracted drivers don’t have time to apply their brakes before impact. 


The higher the speed at which a car is traveling, the longer it will take it to come to a complete stop. This also includes driving too fast for conditions. For instance, a wet roadway requires a much greater stopping distance as cars tend to slide when the brakes are applied too quickly.

Following too Closely 

This is also related to speed. At higher speeds, drivers require larger gaps between cars to react to the car in front of them and safely stop.

Drunk Driving 

Alcohol slows reaction times, meaning the rear driver may fail to apply their brakes in time to avoid a rear-end collision. 

Reckless Driving 

Changing lanes to shoot between gaps in traffic or driving up close to the rear bumper of the front vehicle are common causes of rear-end accidents. 

With most rear-end accidents, a car accident reconstruction expert can pinpoint why the at-fault driver rear-ended the car in front of them. These professional investigators will examine the conditions of the roadway, measure the length of skid marks, etc. Additionally, we can sometimes subpoena phone data to determine whether the rear drivers were engaged in phone activity when they should have been paying attention to the road. 

Regardless of the reason for your rear-end collision, an experienced personal injury lawyer can pursue damages through the insurance company for your rear-end accident injuries. 

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Injuries in Rear-End Accidents 

Rear-end accident injuries run the gamut from minor bruising to serious injuries to death. Here are some of the most common types of injuries from rear-end accidents.

  • Back injuries occur when the seat is suddenly forced into the back of drivers and passengers due to a rear-end impact. 
  • Traumatic brain injuries can occur when the driver’s head is hit by the back of their seat or snaps forward into the steering wheel. Passengers may sustain similar injuries from the seats or dashboards. 
  • Neck whiplash injuries in rear-end accidents occur when the head snaps backward and then suddenly snaps forward. This can affect the driver and passenger of the other vehicle as well.
  • Broken bones in the legs and arms resulting from the front driver bracing against the steering wheel and brake pedal in the crash.
  • Being rear-ended while stopped at a stop sign or red light can be a traumatic experience. Consequently, psychological injuries are common.  

Damages in Rear-End Collisions

Under California’s negligence laws, injury victims have the right to recover the following types of compensation:

Economic Damages 

This is compensation for all of the financial expenses associated with a rear-end collision. Economic damages include medical bills, lost income, property damage, and other costs associated with the accident. 

Non-Economic Damages

Also referred to as pain and suffering, non-economic damages compensate accident injury victims for the intangible costs associated with rear-end collisions. They include compensation for physical pain, emotional suffering, and general inconvenience. 

Punitive Damages 

In some cases, the court will assign excess damages to penalize the rear driver for egregious or intentional behavior. For example, if the rear-end collision occurs as the result of a road rage incident, the court may decide to penalize the defendant further. 

The state of California does not cap damages in injury actions. This means that your rear-end collision lawyer can pursue full compensation for your claim.

Steps to Take After a Rear-End Accident 

The following steps can help you recover compensation for your accident claim. Nothing on this page should be considered legal advice. If you’ve been hit from behind due to another driver’s negligence, contact Maho | Prentice for free legal advice. 

  • Call 911 – Even if you feel fine after the impact, you’ll need a police report. The dispatcher will need your exact location, a description of the vehicles, license plates, and whether or not there are known injuries. 
  • Talk to Witnesses – Eyewitness testimony is invaluable. Ask for the contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident. 
  • Take Photos – Again, this can be a crucial piece of evidence. Take pictures of the position of the vehicles, vehicle damage, debris on the roadway, visible injuries, and any geographic indicators. Only take pictures from a position of safety. 
  • Seek Medical Treatment – Allow the paramedics to examine you and if necessary, transport you to the hospital. Follow up with your doctor as soon as possible. 
  • Talk to an Attorney – Aftergetting rear-ended while stopped collision, it’s common for an insurance adjuster from the rear driver’s insurance company to proactively seek out the other driver to initiate a personal injury claim proactively. The adjuster may offer you a settlement right on the spot, and when you’re anticipating mounting medical bills, it may be difficult to pass up. It’s in your best interest to talk to a personal injury attorney from Maho Prentice before accepting an initial settlement offer. 

Rear-End Collision FAQ

The following are some of the most common questions that victims of rear-end collisions tend to ask. For answers about your specific case, call Maho | Prentice for a free consultation.

Can I be liable if my car is rear-ended in a crash?

The rear driver is usually liable for a rear-end collision. However, there are exceptions where the driver who was rear-ended while stopped may have contributed to the accident. For instance, if the lead driver had faulty brake lights, the court may determine that they were partially liable. Fortunately, under California’s pure comparative negligence principle, a plaintiff can still recover damages, even if they were partially at fault. 

For example, if a lead driver is stopped at a stop sign, but their brake lights aren’t functioning, the court may determine that the defective equipment was 10% responsible for the accident. In this case, the plaintiff could recover compensation for 90% of their damages.    

If the impact from a rear-end crash pushes me into another vehicle, am I liable?

Many rear-end accidents occur because a driver stops their car too close to another vehicle’s bumper and is subsequently pushed into them. In these cases, more than one person may be responsible for damages. 

How common are rear-end car accidents?

Because of distracted driving, more and more drivers aren’t paying attention to the road ahead of them. Consequently, rear-end accidents are on the rise. Rear-end accidents involving distractions like texting, eating while driving, other disruptive passengers or pets, etc., account for almost 30% of all traffic accidents in the U.S. 

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Why shouldn’t I settle with the insurance company on my own?

Insurance agencies are incentivized by reducing payouts on claims. Consequently, the job of the adjuster is to “sell” you on accepting a settlement. While this money may be tempting, you will have to sign a waiver of liability that prevents you from seeking further compensation if your injuries are worse than you previously believed. 

If you are represented by a rear-end accident lawyer, they will assess all of your damages including the anticipated cost of future medical care, lost wages, and other expenses. Once they have a complete picture of your expenses and pain and suffering, they can present a demand letter to the insurance company on your behalf. 

Experienced Rear-End Collision Attorneys in Southern California

If you’ve been rear-ended while stopped, you’re entitled to compensation. Contact Maho | Prentice for a free case evaluation today!

By Maho | Prentice, LLP Attorneys at Law on April 3, 2023