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Who is at Fault in an Alberta Car Accident When Backing up?

Who is at Fault in an Alberta Car Accident When Backing up Featured Image

We don’t usually think about reversing accidents when we think about car accidents, but they happen. They’re common in parking lots, but they sometimes happen at intersections as well, usually when a driver stops a bit into the intersection and tries to correct by scooting the car back in reverse.

Regardless of the circumstances, reversing car accidents are like any other car accident: if they result in injuries they can generate a personal injury case for the driver who is found to be less at-fault for the accident. 

You should follow all of the same after-accident procedures for a reversing accident as you would for any other car accident. 

Here are some of the other questions we get from clients who are involved in reversing accidents. 

Is a reversing driver always at-fault?


While it’s more common for a reversing driver to be found mostly at-fault for their accident, there are circumstances where this won’t be the case.

For example, if you’re slowly backing out of a parking lot space, watching your mirror, and obeying traffic laws and another driver comes speeding behind you at a speed that would be more reasonable for the highway than for a parking lot, then you have grounds for a claim that the other driver is the majority at-fault party and should bear responsibility for the accident. However if you want to sue someone in Calgary then you need to take proper steps including legal evidence.

It all comes down to who is being negligent: who is doing what they’re supposed to do, and who isn’t. 

What’s required of a reversing driver?

Alberta law requires reversing drivers to do their reversing at a “crawl or slow walking speed.” Drivers are required to look behind their vehicle to ensure the path is clear of traffic, pedestrians, and obstacles. 

The province has published an additional list of safety tips here, we recommend that all drivers review them. 

Who is at-fault when both cars are reversing?

It depends.

Was anyone driving distracted?

Was either party breaking the law?

Did either party fail to look where they were going? 

Both drivers are likely to be held a little bit liable in a case like these, but if one driver was breaking the law or failed to look where they were going then they will probably be deemed more at-fault than the other. 

These sorts of accidents are rare, but if you’re involved with one it will be very important to connect with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible, as well as to document the circumstances of the accident as well as you can. 

Who has the right-of-way when reversing?

The vehicle traveling in the lane of traffic always has the right of way. The reversing driver doesn’t have the right of way at any point. It’s always your responsibility to make sure that your way is clear when reversing.

This is why reversing drivers are most often held responsible for accidents. 

Similarly, drivers who are leaving a parking lot or driveway don’t have the right-of-way; those who are traveling in lanes of moving traffic do. 

How do you know who’s at-fault in any accident?

The police usually make the determination when they come on the scene and that is usually the determination that holds when a personal injury case gets filed. 

Several issues get taken into account when determining fault. Usually fault is a matter of violating traffic laws, driving while distracted, driving under the influence, or otherwise making a mistake that creates the conditions of an accident.

Usually both drivers are a little bit at-fault; it’s the responsibility of every driver to do whatever they can do to avoid an accident. Yet in most cases one driver will bear a significant portion of fault, and that is the driver who will end up being the defendant in a personal injury case and he will have to pay the most amount in car accident settlement.  

Who is at-fault in a parking lot collision? 

Fault in parking lot collisions is determined just like fault in any other accident. The idea that drivers in parking lot accidents are automatically assigned 50% of the fault is a myth that often leads clients to making major mistakes long before they talk to us. 

Of course, if a moving vehicle hits a legally parked vehicle then the driver of the moving vehicle is always going to be found to be 100% at fault. The driver of the parked vehicle wasn’t even there! 

What happens if both drivers are found to be at-fault? 

Alberta is a Contributory Negligence province. This law states:

“When by fault of two or more persons damage or loss is caused to one or more of them, the liability to make good the damage or loss is in proportion to the degree in which each person was at fault, but if, having regard to all circumstances of the case, it is not possible to establish different degrees of fault, the liability shall be apportioned equally.”

In other words, each driver is assigned a percentage of fault regardless of the circumstances of the case.

It could be 60% and 40%. It could be 90% and 10%. In some very rare cases it could be 100% and 0%.

As long as you are less than 50% at fault you can bring a personal injury case, but there are diminishing returns based on the percentage of fault assigned to your own behavior. 

This is because your personal injury award is reduced by your percentage of fault. If you get an $100,000 settlement and are found to be 30% at fault then you will really only receive a $70,000 settlement. 

Rest assured insurance companies will fight hard to increase your liability, even if only by a few percentage points, if they can. Why wouldn’t they? Even a single 1% increase in the amount of negligence that you’re said to have demonstrated can save them thousands of dollars.

This is one reason why it’s so important to work closely with a skilled personal injury lawyer regardless of what sort of automobile accident you’re involved in. Part of their job is going to be to reduce your percentage of negligence whenever possible, to negotiate that figure down during the settlement conference. If the case goes into litigation the courts eventually make the final determination. In general these determinations will be very close to whatever the police officers decide when they get on the scene, but there are exceptions. 

Though it is not quite impossible to settle a personal injury claim without a lawyer, but it is advisable to hire skilled person instead to get a expected output from the case.

Why trust us with your car accident? 

Each of our lawyers has over two decades of experience handling car accident cases in Calgary. Our team of car accident lawyers is known for our courtroom litigation skills as well as our sharp negotiation skills. We know car accident cases inside and out, and we know how to handle insurance companies while protecting your rights. 

We’re known for being kind, responsive, and easy to deal with. We keep you in the loop, answer all of your questions and concerns, and do everything we can to make the process run as smoothly as possible. We’ll even handle the insurance companies on your behalf! 

Don’t try to handle a car accident alone. Your call is risk-free. Call (403) 219-0184 to set up a consultation today.

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