Who Is At-Fault in a Backing Up Accident?

Date: December 19, 2023

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that over 15,000 backing up accidents occur annually in the United States, resulting in over 30,000 injuries. Backing accidents are quite common, especially involving parking lots or driveways.

How Is Fault Determined in Backing Accidents?

Determining fault is crucial in any car accident to establish liability for compensation. In backing accidents, fault is generally determined in one of the two following ways:

  • Right-of-way: The most essential element in determining liability is which driver had the right-of-way at the time of the accident, especially if both cars were moving. Generally, the car in the moving traffic lane has the right-of-way, and the backing vehicle must yield. If the backing driver fails to yield, they are typically considered at fault for the accident.
  • Moving vehicle: In backing accidents that involve a stationary vehicle, usually parked, the moving car is typically responsible. This type of accident most commonly occurs in parking lots, driveways, and parallel street parking. However, there may be exceptions if the stationary vehicle is illegally parked or extends too far into a public lane.

What Are Possible Scenarios of Backing Up Accidents?

Backing accidents, which are most common in parking lots, can occur due to several scenarios, almost exclusively due to driver error, such as failing to look in all directions for other vehicles or pedestrians. The most common scenarios include:

  • Backing out of a parking space: The most common backing accidents occur when a driver pulls out of a parking spot, either moving forward or in reverse, and striking an oncoming car, another car backing up, a parked car, or a pedestrian.
  • Backing into oncoming traffic: This type of accident occurs when a vehicle backs out of a parking spot, roadway, driveway, and other locations onto a road and into oncoming traffic. In the case of many driveways, backing vehicles are crossing over pedestrian or cycling spaces, such as sidewalks and bicycle lanes, in addition to the roadway, increasing the risk of dangerous accidents.
  • Simultaneous backing: Typically limited to parking lots, simultaneous backing accidents occur when two vehicles are backing up at the same and run into one another. Liability in simultaneous backing accidents is often shared as both vehicles moved simultaneously in the same space.

Is the Driver Backing Up Always Responsible?

The driver backing up is generally considered at fault, based on the driver’s duty to yield, right-of-way, and whether both cars were moving at the time of the collision. However, some exceptions may place responsibility on the other driver based on negligent actions, such as:

  • Disobeying traffic laws
  • Distracted driving
  • Failure to yield
  • Drunk or drugged driving
  • Illegal parking
  • Reckless driving
  • Speeding

What Should I Do After a Backing Up Accident?

Gathering evidence after an accident can be beneficial to your claim. Steps you should take following a backing accident include:

  • Call the police and report the accident and any injuries.
  • Take photos of the scene, damage to both cars, signage and lighting, road and weather conditions, and other contributing factors.
  • Ask witnesses for contact information and statements.
  • Seek medical attention, even if you believe your injuries are minor. The force of impact in backing up accidents can result in certain internal injuries with delayed symptoms that can be life-threatening if untreated. You will also need a medical report for your injury claim.
  • Maintain all records and communication you receive related to the accident and injuries.
  • Hire an experienced car accident lawyer.

Do not leave the scene if you backed into an unoccupied parked vehicle. Doing so is a law violation that could result in hit-and-run charges and serious consequences. The police can obtain the vehicle’s ownership information and contact them regarding the accident.

Recommended Resources:

Who Is At Fault for a T-Bone Accident?

Can I Make a Personal Injury Claim Myself?

Who Is At Fault for a Parking Lot Accident?

Who Is At Fault in a Merging Accident?

New Jersey Car Accident Lawyers at Kitrick, McWeeney & Wells, LLC Represent Clients Involved in Backing Up Accidents

Determining fault can be challenging in backing up accidents but crucial if the collision results in injuries or significant property damage. If you have been involved in a backing up accident, our New Jersey car accident lawyers at Kitrick, McWeeney & Wells, LLC can help. Call 732-800-9474 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Manasquan and Brick, New Jersey, we serve clients in Middlesex County, Atlantic County, Mercer County, Monmouth County, and Ocean County.