Liability for Driveway Backover Accidents

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By George Khoury, Esq. on November 16, 2016 6:00 AM

All too frequently, children are injured in driveway backover accidents. These accidents tend to occur when children are playing in the driveway, behind a vehicle. Sometimes the vehicle gets put in neutral or the brake is disengaged on accident by another child playing inside the car. Sometimes it's a relative, friend, or neighbor who just didn't expect a child to be sitting down in the middle of their driveway when they decided to back out. However it happens, the injuries can range mild to devastating to death.

When a backover accident occurs, liability may not be clear cut as different situations can lead to some unexpected results. Keep in mind that over 70 percent of backover accidents involving children are caused by parents or close relatives. The elderly are the next largest segment of backover victims, but it is much more rare to find an elderly person playing underneath or directly behind a car. 

When Is the Driver Liable?

Apart from the situation where a child runs into the path of the vehicle after it has started moving, the driver will usually be held liable for a backover accident. However, there may be other liable individuals, such as a child's caretaker. Additionally, if a vehicle is equipped with a backup camera or backup sensors that failed to detect the child, a vehicle manufacturer, or the component manufacturer could face a product liability suit. Generally, however, the driver and caretaker will be the ones against whom a parent will want to impose liability.

If it is a parent that causes the roll over, the child may be able to bring an action against their parent. While this may sound awkward, due to the way auto insurance companies operate, it may be required.

When Is the Homeowner Liable?

In a situation where children are playing in and around a car, and one child causes the car to backover another child, the person who was watching the children, or the person who owns the vehicle and property, can be found liable. In this type of situation, an injury may fall outside the scope of an auto insurance policy, but could still fit within a homeowner's insurance policy.

Criminal Liability

For as common as backover accidents are, criminal charges are rarely filed in these situations. However, if there was a serious injury or death, there may be some serious criminal charges, including involuntary manslaughter or vehicular assault.

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