It Happens to Almost Everyone
Being on the giving or receiving end of an accident caused by one car backing up into another is frustratingly common. Generally, not at fault is a lack of driving skill, but instead more likely it is a lack of attention or focus. Maybe on one driver’s part, maybe on both. Sometimes one vehicle is stationary, or parked, and you watch helplessly while another car plows into you. The reasons are many. Talking or texting on the phone. A child or another occupant of the vehicle distracts you. The sun is in your eyes. You are tired and your reactions are slow. And depending on the speed of one or both vehicles, damages, sometimes extensive, and injury, sometimes severe, can occur. During holiday times there is even more stress. Polls have revealed that up to 66% of drivers allow themselves to be distracted while driving through a parking lot. And that’s where many of these backing up accidents occur. On average, more than 50,000 crashes occur in parking lots and parking garages annually, resulting in 500 or more deaths and more than 60,000 injuries. And chances are, one driver is at fault, and the other is going to want to recover damages.
Who’s at Fault?
Many times after one vehicle backs up into another, both drivers might have stories to tell. Often, they will not be in agreement. One thing is certain though, no matter what your story is, the police, the insurance adjuster, or a lawyer will be looking at one thing. Right of Way. As complicated as the details of your story might be, an investigator is going to want to determine who had the right of way. Simple. If you didn’t have it, you are probably at fault. Specific local traffic laws will govern wherever the accident occurs and in some situations will override common sense and normal right of way logic.
Right of Way
Overwhelmingly, accidents where backing up is involved happen in busy parking lots where it’s often confusing who has the right of way. Sometimes you are backing out of a driveway. If you hit someone doing this, you’re probably at fault. You could be attempting to back out of a parking space on the street. In this case you do not have the right of way. Many times one car is stationary and the other crashes into it. Sometimes both vehicles are moving. But the rule still applies. The first thing that will be investigated is who had the right of way. A lot has been written about this subject, and it is interesting to note that it’s more about yielding the way than claiming the road as your own.
Applying these general rules to reversing your car in a parking lot situation is helpful.
In general, the car that is stationary is not at fault. If the parking lot has traffic signs and guidance, and one car strikes the other while not in compliance with the rules of that lot, that driver is at fault.
What if Both Drivers Make Mistakes?
Just like in other areas of the law, contributory negligence is often a factor. If the accident is more than a fender bender, and police and insurance adjusters come to the scene, it will be important to be able to show why you had the right of way. All the other details of your story aren’t really going to matter much. Be clear and concise when you make your statement. If you recognize that you were probably not in possession of the right of way, clearly state what contributing circumstances played a part in the accident. Things like the other vehicle speeding, the driver not paying attention or not attempting to avoid, all are examples of things that might cause a sharing of the blame, and therefore, the damages.
Should you be involved in an accident involving backing up that is more than a fender bender, call our car accident attorneys at Costa Ivone right away to make sure any damages you sustain are fully recovered, and any you cause are of the least possible financial impact to you.