Children are injured daily in the United States by driveway backover incidents. These accidents occur when a child plays in the driveway, walks behind a car while it’s in reverse, or when a vehicle resting in neutral becomes disengaged.
The person who runs over a child is not always a stranger. In fact, it is more common for a friend or relative to accidentally back over a child in the driveway. Most do not assume that a child would be behind the vehicle or in the driveway, so they may not look.
These types of accidents, while common, are especially tragic. They can leave a child severely injured and, in some cases, these accidents can be fatal.
When a backover incident occurs, the liability may not be clear. Per KidsandCars.org, 70 percent of backover accidents are caused by family or close relatives. The elderly are at higher risk for causing a backover incident than younger age groups; they are also equally at risk for being backover victims.
If a child runs into the path of a reversing vehicle, after that vehicle has already started to move, then the driver is not liable. This is the only situation in which a driver is not liable for the incident, because the car was already moving and someone ran in front of the vehicle. Therefore, there is no expectation that the driver would be able to react or stop in time.
There are other parties that may be liable in a backover accident, other than the driver of the vehicle. These parties include:
If a child is playing around a car, and one child causes that car to backover another, the person who owns the vehicle or property, or the person watching the children, may all be liable. If the car was left unlocked and idling, then the vehicle’s owner is likely to be held liable for an accidental backover.
These situations often fall outside of insurance coverage, but a homeowner’s insurance policy may supplement if automobile insurance does not cover the incident.
In addition to civil liability, these types of cases often involve criminal penalties, as well. However, criminal charges are unlikely to be filed, because these types of incidents are accidents and not criminal acts.
If there is a serious injury or death, however, the police are more likely to file criminal charges against the responsible driver.
If your child was injured in a backover accident, speak with a personal injury attorney. Today, drivers have no excuse for not looking behind them and, with the many awareness campaigns out there, most drivers know to look for small children.