A driver backed out of his driveway unsafely, and caused an accident with my car. What is the correct assignment of liability?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Nov 15, 2013

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Insurance Question from North Woodmere, NY

Asked on 11/15/2013

A driver backed out of his driveway unsafely, and caused an accident with my car. What is the correct assignment of liability? I was driving on a narrow residential street when the other driver quickly backed out of his driveway from a house on the right side. He was turning his car as he was backing out, so that the rear of his car was turning to the right. His car was not yet completely on the road. I saw him at the last possible moment, but it was too late for any evasive action to be taken. The point of impact was the front right of my car and the left rear of his.The other driver is claiming that he was fully on to the road and was in the process of shifting from reverse to drive when the impact occurred.My insurance company wanted to hold me 40% liable. I said that did not seem fair, and they reduced it to 20%. I felt I shouldn't be held to any liability, that the driver backing out of a driveway has to be fully aware and responsible for any other vehicles on the road.My insurance company said that based on the point of impact, they felt the other driver was already entirely on the road, and there is no way I could have hit the left rear of his vehicle unless that was the case. I said that was not true, that he could still be backing up with a portion of his vehicle still on the driveway yet the left rear of his vehicle would be closer to the middle of the road. But the insurance company refused to budge on their stance.I know it is only 20%, but it is still affecting my rates as well as rates that other insurance companies are quoting me. Am I wrong here? Barring any reckless or driving or speeding on my part, shouldn't 100% of the liability be on the driver backing up?

Answer given on November 17, 2013

If you are in the street and the other party backed out and struck you, it is usually considered the car that is backing as the fault of the accident and their insurance company should pay for the repairs.It appears your insurance company has investigated the accident and the damages and determined that you are, in part, responsible for the accident. Even if you are driving in the roadway you are expected to maintain attention to the surrounding areas. If you were not attentive you can be considered to be partially at fault in the accident. Since the other driver claims to have completed his backing and the damages to the cars supports this, you would be considered partially at fault.Since the blame is only 20% this should not be considered an at fault accident and should not affect your rates. However, you may have to pay for a portion of the damages to your car.

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