Who May Be Liable for a New Jersey Backing-Up Crash?
The flow of traffic in parking lots or in and out of driveways may be slower, but if an accident occurs, it can still cause severe or even fatal injuries. Unfortunately, determining liability for a backing-up crash is not always straightforward and the legal process for recovering compensation can be extremely complicated.
This article takes a closer look at backing-up crashes, including how they affect the victims and who can be liable for any resulting medical costs, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and other damages.
At Lynch Law Firm, PC, our knowledgeable New Jersey auto accident attorneys have been advocating for injured victims for decades. The resulting physical, emotional and financial damages from any type of collision may impact victims and their families for weeks, months and even years in some cases.
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What Is a New Jersey Driver’s Legal Duty of Care When Backing Up?
No matter what state you live in, drivers are held to a certain responsibility any time they get behind the wheel. This legal duty of care requires drivers to exercise reasonable care while operating a vehicle, whether taking steps to back up safely or properly following traffic laws on the highway.
Under New Jersey law, when drivers need to back up, they must yield the right-of-way to other vehicles, pedestrians, and other vulnerable road users. While reversing, they need to continue this duty of care, remaining watchful for distracted pedestrians, cyclists and others. Failure to do so can lead to serious accidents.
Who Could Be Liable if a Crash Occurs While a Driver is Backing Up?
Liability is rarely straightforward as it depends on events leading up to the crash and many other factors. However, at a more general level, parties who could be partially or fully liable for a backing-up crash include:
The Backing-Up Driver
In many cases, the driver reversing a vehicle may be the liable party. This goes back to a driver’s legal duty, which includes taking reasonable care when backing out of a parking space. Drivers are expected to wait until their path is clear of any traffic before proceeding. Drivers who fail to yield to other vehicles, pedestrians and others in their path could be held liable for damages if a crash results.
Drivers of Other Vehicles
Drivers of other vehicles may be held liable in certain circumstances. For instance, if a driver sees a vehicle already in the process of backing up. If that driver deliberately speeds up in an attempt to block the vehicle that is backing up, he or she could be partially or even fully liable for any resulting damages.
Though rare, it may be possible for a mechanical defect to cause a backing-up crash. For instance, if the vehicle suddenly accelerated on its own due to a mechanical defect or if the driver applied the brake, but the vehicle did not slow or come to a stop. If there were known auto defects that contributed to a backing-up crash, manufacturers can be held liable if they knew or should have known about them but failed to take reasonable steps to mitigate the issue, such as recalling the vehicle for the defect.
Liability might sometimes extend beyond the driver who is backing up a vehicle. For instance, if the accident occurred in a commercial setting, such as a parking lot. The business, property owners or even property managers could share some liability if inadequate signage, poor visibility, or faulty design somehow contributed to the crash.
Employers of Drivers Backing Up a Company Vehicle
In cases where the driver who caused the backing-up collision was operating a company vehicle during work hours, their employer might share liability. Employers are responsible for ensuring their employees receive proper training and may be held accountable if they fail to provide adequate safety guidelines or supervision.
What Evidence May Help To Prove Liability for a Backing-Up Crash in New Jersey?
Trying to prove liability in any type of crash can be challenging, especially when cases are not straightforward. There are many steps you may need to take to help prove a backing-up crash case in New Jersey, such as:
Gathering Key Evidence
Your attorney can help you to obtain evidence that supports your claim, which could include:
- Statements from credible witnesses
- Photographs of the crash scene
- Any dashcam or video surveillance footage that may be available
- Police reports
- Relevant medical records
- And more
When evidence is not enough to fully clarify liability for a backing-up crash, there are additional steps you can take, such as consulting with an accident reconstruction specialist. However, we strongly recommend seeking legal help from day one. Many of these legal steps are complicated. Having an attorney can help you avoid making mistakes that could hurt your claim while also insuring your interests are protected.
How Can Drivers Help To Prevent Backing-Up Crashes?
Whether you are a driver, pedestrian or cyclist going through a parking lot, there are critical steps you can take to protect yourselves and help prevent a crash.
For Pedestrians, Cyclists, Scooter Riders and Other Vulnerable Road Users
Even though you may not be in a vehicle, it is important to recognize that you share a portion of the responsibility for protecting yourself from being hit by vehicles backing out of a parking space, a driveway or elsewhere.
To start with, walking through a parking lot while distracted by conversation, your phone or anything else could cause you to get seriously injured. Drivers may become distracted and at other times, they may not be able to see you, even when you think they should.
In short, be proactive by remaining alert anytime you are out walking. Continue to scan the road, parking lot and driveways for vehicles that may not see you.
Avoiding Causing a Backing-Up Crash as a Driver
Drivers are held to a higher duty of care, so before you even get into your vehicle, you should begin scanning around it and nearby for people who could get into your path.
Although you may have a backing-up camera, remember that all technology can fail so do not rely fully on it. Be sure to check your mirrors and blind spots for pedestrians and other vehicles as well. When you see the path behind your vehicle is clear, begin to move out slowly, but continue to scan for pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles.
Injured by a Driver Who Was Backing Up? Call Lynch Law Firm, PC Today
Even when being proactive, accidents can still happen. If you or a loved one were injured by a negligent driver in a backing-up crash, we may be able to help you recover significant compensation for your medical costs and other losses.
Our legal team at Lynch Lawyers, PC has a proven history of success, and we are prepared to work tirelessly on your behalf. Call or text our law offices today to request a free case review. If we determine you have a case and you choose our firm to represent you, we can get started right away.
There are no upfront costs or fees to pay. We only get paid if you do.
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