Who Is At Fault In A Car Accident When Backing Up?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are an estimated 15,000 backover accidents and 30,000 backing up car accident injuries in the United States every year.

Backing up statistics like these might come as a surprise. Backing up injuries? Backing up deaths? Really? 

That's right—backing-up auto accidents happen all the time, especially in parking lot accidents and driveway accident cases. While the frequency and severity of backing-up car accidents can vary, these types of seemingly ordinary crashes can easily lead to injuries like whiplash, bruising, or broken bones.

If you have ever been the victim of a backing up accident (or perhaps you were the one backing up), then you're probably wondering who is at fault. In this article, I'll discuss some of the common scenarios of backing up car accidents and discuss how fault is determined in such events. 

How Do You Determine Who Is At Fault When Backing Up?

In the case of a backing-up accident, the fault is typically determined in one of two ways, accomplished by asking these questions:

Which driver had the right of way?

If both cars were moving when the crash took place, then understanding the right of way rules can very quickly help determine who was at fault in a backing up accident. The driver who violated regular traffic patterns and did not yield the right of way will generally be found at-fault for the crash. 

Was the car moving? 

Suppose there was one car involved in the crash that was not moving. In that case, determining fault should be simple: the car that was driving was responsible for the accident. 

Backing up auto accidents like this happen all the time in parking lots, driveways, or trying to parallel park in a tight spot. 

Were you involved in a backing-up car accident? If you have questions about filing a claim with the insurance company to recoup compensation for property damage, or you've suffered an injury and want to discuss your options for seeking compensation, call Bruscato today. 

John Bruscato is a personal injury attorney specializing in car accident cases in Monroe, Louisiana. Contact our office today for a free case evaluation. 

Possible Scenarios for Backing-Up Accidents

Now that you know the basics of determining fault in a car accident let's go over a few common types of backing-up accidents.

Backing Out of a Parking Space

Parking lots are typically made up of two different kinds of roadways: thoroughfares and feeder lanes.

A thoroughfare is a lane in the parking lot that either exits onto a road or is the main lane that cuts through a parking lot. Feeder lanes, on the other hand, are roadways that connect thoroughfares. For example, the road connecting rows of parked cars is a feeder lane.

If you're in a private property parking spot (most lots are private property) and ready to reverse, you're supposed to look for passing vehicles in the rear thoroughfare before pulling out. The moving car in this situation has the right of way, not the parked vehicle. 

However, suppose the moving car was speeding up or negligent in some capacity when it collided with the car backing out of the parking lane, failing to obey the traffic laws. In that case, both vehicles may share the fault. 

If the car backed out of the parking space into a parked car, then the driver of the moving vehicle is at fault.

Backing Out Into Oncoming Traffic

In this situation, since there are two or more moving vehicles, multiple cars may take on the fault. In general, the vehicle traveling in the lane of traffic has the right of way. The vehicle backing out will be primarily responsible for the crash. 

Two Cars Back into Each Other (Both Backing Up)

This type of backing up accident most often occurs in parking lots. You've probably been in this experience yourself. It's a busy Saturday at your local grocery store, and all the parking spots are full. You check your mirrors to make sure it's all-clear and start backing out. Meanwhile, the car in your blind spot was attempting to reverse at the same time you were. Since both vehicles were moving, both drivers will take responsibility for the accident. 

Is the Driver Backing Up Always At Fault?

In most cases, the driver backing up will be partially at fault, if not entirely at fault. That said, there are a few exceptions to the rules when making a determination of fault. 

In some situations, the driver backing up may be the victim of another driver's negligence, despite failing to comply with the right-of-way rules. 

These exceptions include: 

  • Reckless driving — this type of driving is a major moving traffic violation that usually consists of driving with blatant disregard for people's safety or property. This could mean weaving in and out of lanes, failing to use proper turning signals, following too closely, or driving against clear traffic signs. Reckless drivers will often assume some level of responsibility for an accident, but not all.
  • Speeding — similarly, speeding cars are subject to similar faults as reckless driving. Despite having the right of way, if a driver was driving over the speed limit (even if the limit was not clearly posted), they will likely be partially at-fault for the crash.
  • Failure to yield — failing to yield is typically an obvious way to find fault. However, when a car is backing out of a parking spot or motioning to pull into one, there comes the point when the moving vehicle in the proximity of the parking car has the right of way. By failing to yield the right of way, the moving vehicle may be at fault.
  • Negligence — lastly, a moving car with the right of way may be at fault if were found negligent. Intoxication, driving under the influence, or distracted driving are a few examples of driver negligence. 

Preventing Backing up Car Accidents

You can't always prevent a back-up accident from happening. Still, there are some simple ways to reduce your risk of being a victim or being at fault for the collision.

  • Practice driver awareness — Being aware of what's happening in your environment is the best way to practice safe driving. When you check your mirrors and your blind spots before backing up, you significantly reduce your risk of backing into another vehicle or a pedestrian.
  • Embrace safety technology — Newer vehicles come with sophisticated safety technology such as back-up sensors, cameras, or assisted-driving features that help reduce the risk of back-up accidents or any other type of car collision. 
  • Watch for pedestrians — Moving vehicles are pretty easy to see. Still, pedestrians can very easily slip behind your car if you aren't paying attention. Always be on the lookout for cyclists, pedestrians, and small children when backing up. 

If you are involved in a backing up car accident, make sure to exchange contact information with the other driver. Ask for their insurance information and take photos of any property damage. You'll also want to request a police report if a police response to the situation was necessary. 

If you suffered an injury from the accident, a car accident attorney can help you explore your legal options and compensation eligibility. Especially if you have medical bills or other damages resulting from the crash, an experienced attorney can help during this stressful time.

Hiring a Louisiana Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

Determining fault in a backing up car accident is usually straightforward, but not always. If you were involved in an accident and have suffered an injury or property damage, a personal injury lawyer can help you explore your legal options. 

Contact Bruscato Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation to discuss the details of your situation. 


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