Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident When Backing Up?

Posted by : Stevenson & Murray on April 15, 2020

Most drivers know the basics when it comes to determining fault in an accident. Breaking traffic rules and disobeying signals are often to blame for collisions. As a result, the offending driver is usually found at fault for the resulting accident. However, fault is not so clear cut in a car accident when backing up. For example, who has the right of way when backing up in a parking lot? Are oncoming drivers expected to exercise extra caution when another driver is backing out onto the road? Our Houston car accident lawyers tackle these questions and more below. Read on to learn more about how to determine fault in these types of car accidents.

Two Primary Factors for Determining Fault

When a car accident occurs, there are usually two key indicators of fault. The first factor to consider is: which car was moving? Were both cars in motion? Essentially, when only one car is in motion, that car is most likely at fault for the collision.

The second key factor in determining fault for a car accident when backing up is: who had the right of way? The driver with the right of way will generally not be at fault for the accident. Determining the right of way will depend on the traffic signs, patterns and rules enforceable in the area.

What Are the Most Common Causes for a Car Accident When Backing Up?

Car accidents which involve one or more drivers backing up typically occur in specific locations. For example, parking lots are a prime location for backing up, as drivers are exiting their parking spots. Another hotspot for this type of accident involves drivers who are backing out of their driveways and into a lane of traffic. In these situations, the right of way may be ambiguous. The following is a list of common scenarios and a general guideline for determining fault in each situation.

Backing Out of a Parking Space

Backing out of a parking space and into a parked car will most likely make you at fault for the collision. However, when backing out and colliding with an oncoming vehicle, determining fault is not so clear cut. Since both vehicles are moving, it is likely you will share fault with the other driver to some degree. At the same time, if the other vehicle did not have the right of way given the traffic pattern of the parking lot, then they may be more at fault for the collision. Additionally, if they did have the right of way, then you may be more at fault for not exercising appropriate caution when backing up.

Further, there are times in a parking lot accident where two vehicles will back into each other. Since both are in motion, fault is likely shared. Further, neither driver has the right of way. However, both drivers were responsible for checking their surroundings before backing up. In this situation, both drivers will likely share fault equally.

Backing Out Into Oncoming Traffic

This type of collision usually occurs when someone is backing out of their driveway or parallel parking space. Since both cars involved were moving, they will likely share blame. This is due to both drivers having a responsibility to remain aware of their surroundings and drive cautiously. However, the oncoming car has the right of way on the road. This means that the driver who was backing up should have waited until it was safe to enter the lane before backing out. In this situation, it is likely that the driver backing up is more at fault for the collision.

Involved in a Car Accident When Backing Up? Get Help From a Houston Car Accident Lawyer

While the above represents a general guide to understanding fault when backing up, there are some exceptions. Determining fault in any given car accident case will depend on many factors relative to the case. If you were in this type of accident, then you can schedule a free consultation with our firm to discuss your case. Contact our Houston car accident lawyers by phone at (713) 597-3836 to learn more about your legal options.

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