Backover Car Accidents

Backover car accidents occur at an alarming rate. Most of these happen when a driver is backing out of a driveway or out of a parking spot in a lot and an unsuspecting pedestrian is struck. If it is a child, the motorist may not even be aware of the incident.

Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimate that about 17,000 backover car accident injuries are reported each year resulting in over 200 deaths. Sadly, many of these injuries and fatalities occur to toddlers and to seniors who are either too young to appreciate the hazard of being behind a car or too slow moving or inattentive from dementia, physical or sensory incapacity to notice or avoid the impending danger. Surveys show that about 35% of injured victims in these accidents are under the age of 5, while about 40% are over the age of 70.

A tragic consequence of many of these accidents is that the motorist and victim are family members or neighbors. Imagine the agony and emotional trauma of having seriously injured or killed a family member or neighbor’s child or relative from having ran over someone from behind. If you or a family member was seriously injured or killed in a backover accident, contact personal injury lawyer Deborah Gold-Alexander of Revere, Massachusetts.

Reducing the Risk

It is obviously difficult to see a small child on a tricycle or one walking behind a vehicle pulling out from a driveway. In an SUV or pickup truck, sitting up high reduces visibility. In these vehicles, at least, the driver should walk around the vehicle first or see if anyone is approaching on the sidewalk or roadway before backing out from its parked position.

Technology by way of rearview cameras, however, have undoubtedly reduced the risk of a backover accident. Many new vehicles, though certainly not all, are now equipped with this feature. Many safety advocates are clamoring for mandatory installation of rearview cameras in all new vehicles and to become a standard feature, similar to seatbelts and air bags.

For motorists whose vehicles do not have this feature, they have to be cognizant of this danger in crowded parking lots and residential areas. If someone is approaching, wait or at least honk your horn to get their attention. Toddlers should not be out of sight of their parents and if old enough, they should be warned about walking or riding a bike when approaching a driveway with a car and stopping if they see someone in the vehicle. If you have small children or live in a residential area where many families live, you might consider having a rearview camera installed in your vehicle.

Damages in a Backover Car Accident

Injuries from these accidents can be catastrophic, even though most occur from a vehicle that is slow moving and may have not have reached a speed exceeding 5 miles per hour. Since about 75% of victims are under the age of 5 or over 70 years of age, they are more susceptible to severe injuries from being struck by a 5000 pound vehicle at any speed. Injuries may include:

  • Broken bones
  • Hip injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Paralysis
  • Crush injuries
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Death

Compensation is available for the victims or their families so long as negligence on the part of the motorist is proved. The driver’s insurer in such cases may allege contributory negligence on your part or that of your loved one. If the victim was a child, the parent’s inattentiveness or failure to monitor the toddler may be an issue regarding liability. A similar argument may be made about anyone else who walks or jogs behind a car that is backing up. If these issues do arise, consult with an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney like Deborah Gold-Alexander regarding the viability of an injury claim.

In Massachusetts, you can still collect compensation from a responsible party so long as your degree of causal responsibility is less than 50%, though your compensation is reduced by your percentage of fault. If you are considered to be 40% at fault and your damages are $100,000, you can still collect $60,000.  While you may not consider obtaining a money settlement as you deal with the grief of your devastating loss, still there may be medical bills or other out of pocket bills that need to be paid.  You may wish to establish a fund on behalf of the injured party.  While the compensation may never restore the injured party to his or her previous healthy condition, you may be entitled to the compensation and should pursue the case for that purpose.

Damages in a personal injury case include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future wage loss
  • Emotional trauma
  • Pain and suffering

Pain and suffering is usually the category where the highest awards are made and are based on the nature and extent of the injury along with the impact the injury has had on the victim’s daily living activities and ability to enjoy life.

If there was a fatality, Massachusetts law allows the personal representative of the decedent’s estate to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the immediate family members for the following:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of love, support and companionship
  • Loss of financial support
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering if the victim was conscious for a time before succumbing
  • Punitive or exemplary damages if the liable party’s conduct was grossly negligent or showed a willful indifference to the safety of others

Backover car accident claims can present challenging issues. Contact Deborah Gold-Alexander today if you or a relative was injured or killed in this type of accident for a free assessment of your injury claim.

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