Rear-end collisions are some of the most common car accidents in San Diego County and Southern California. Many people, our San Diego car accident attorney explains, mistakenly believe these crashes aren't serious—until they suffer injuries after being involved.

Two cars involved in a rear-end crash in CaliforniaThe sad truth is that rear-end accidents often cause long-term injuries or death. The Insurance Information Institute reports that in 2016, they were the third leading cause of moving vehicle fatalities, with 2,350 victims killed nationwide.

Top 7 Reasons for Rear-End Crashes in California

All drivers must maintain a safe distance between their vehicles and the ones in front of them so they can stop or slow down in an emergency. This duty is almost always breached in a rear-end collision. Here are the most common causes of these accidents.

  1. Tailgating. When a driver tailgates, he's violating the traffic rule to maintain a safe distance or the "three-second rule" of space between vehicles. Tailgating makes it impossible to slow down, stop suddenly, or see around large vehicles such as buses or tractor-trailers.
  2. SpeedingIf a driver speeds, he's more focused on getting through a light or to his destination than paying attention to motorists and others around him. This means he's not allowing a safe distance between vehicles or anticipating the longer time required for safe braking. 
  3. Distracted DrivingDistracted driving practices—such as looking at a GPS, talking on a cellphone, and texting—take an individual's eyes and mind off his driving. In the event of a sudden traffic change, or if the motorist ahead needs to stop suddenly, there's no time to respond safely to avoid a collision.
  4. IntoxicationConsuming alcohol or drugs and driving impair a person’s reaction time, vision, and judgment. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that in 2017, 12.8 million people in the U.S. drove while under the influence of illicit drugs and 21.4 people did so while after consuming alcohol.
  5. Drowsy DrivingFatigue affects your skills behind the wheel in similar ways to drunk driving. Even worse, a person could drift off and not realize the vehicle in front has stopped or slowed down.
  6. Not Driving for Weather Conditions. Regardless of the posted speed limit, drivers must slow down for heavy rain, ice, fog, and other hazardous weather conditions. Failure to do so puts everyone at risk and increases the chances of a multi-car collision.
  7. Defective Auto Parts. In some cases, defective auto parts can cause a driver to lose control of his vehicle. Lack of maintenance, improper repairs, and manufacturing and design defects lead to vehicle part failures. Brakes and brake lights are frequent contributors to rear-end collisions. A victim could have a product liability claim if a manufacturing or design defect caused his crash.

California Traffic Laws Violated in Rear-End Collisions

In most cases, the driver behind the front vehicle will be found to be negligent in causing a rear-end crash. However, there are situations where the motorist in front was at fault. Individuals may be found negligent per se if they breached a California code or statute. Negligence per se means the person’s conduct is automatically considered negligent. Traffic laws violated in these accidents include:

  • Basic speed law, which requires motorists to drive at a reasonable and prudent speed
  • Following too closely, which prohibits individuals from following another vehicle at a distance that's not reasonable and prudent
  • Failing to maintain working brake lights
  • Failing to maintain working brakes
  • Stopping suddenly without a reasonable cause
  • Making lane changes in a negligent manner

If you or a family member was injured in a rear-end collision in San Diego County or Southern California, you may be entitled to compensation for injuries sustained from the at-fault driver. Take advantage of my offer of a free book, The 10 Secrets You Need to Know About Your Injury Case Before You Call an Attorney, to learn about your legal options. Then, fill out my online form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your accident and how I can assist you.

Mark Blane
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San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer | California Car Accident Attorney