Avoid Backing Up Accidents

 In Louisiana Car Wrecks

Take Care in Reverse

As motorists, we need to do our part to avoid backing up accidents. The number of personal injuries and fatalities resulting from vehicles in reverse is tragic. In the U.S., 50 children per week are backed over by moving vehicles. In 70 percent of cases, the driver of the wheel is a close friend or family member of the child. We know you will agree with the personal injury lawyers at Joseph Joy and Associates in Lafayette that these statistics, collected by the nonprofit kidsandcars.org, highlight the importance of taking extra caution when your car or truck is in reverse.

Certain factors can increase the risk of backover accidents. Most children involved are less than one year of age. Toddlers are at risk as well, just having learned to walk or run, they’re often testing the limits of play and wander away from their parent’s view.

If you have a young child, there are several things you can do to reduce their risk of injury. Visual and audio cues are an important part of accident avoidance. If you are driving an older vehicle, it may not be equipped with a backup camera. While every vehicle has blind spots, they also have blind zones. Blind spots block a driver’s visibility of pedestrians or other vehicles around their car. Blind zones are different— this term describes the area around a car that will never be visible to the operator of the vehicle. These zones are often close to the vehicle, located underneath the side windows, just before the hood, and underneath the rearview window. Shorter people and objects are more likely to be hidden in these zones, which is why young children are at greater risk of injury from backup accidents than other pedestrians.

For this reason, backup cameras have been a requirement for all new vehicles since May of 2018. Congress passed the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act in 2008. The bill was named after Dr. Greg Gulbransen, who in 2002 accidentally and tragically backed over and killed his 2-year-old son Cameron. The law was signed by then-President George W. Bush, ordered NHTSA to issue by 2011 a standard for improving drivers’ ability to detect pedestrians behind their vehicles. The legislation was designed to expand the required field of view to enable the driver of a motor vehicle to detect areas behind the motor vehicle to reduce death and injury resulting from backing incidents, particularly incidents involving small children and disabled persons. If you drive an older vehicle and are worried about backover accidents, backup cameras can be bought online, or installed by your local auto shop.

The non-profit safekids.org created the “Spot The Tot” initiative that teaches families about preventable injuries that occur in driveways and parking lots when drivers are unaware that children are near vehicles. It also provides tips on how to spot kids and avoid an unintentional frontover or backover incident. It sounds obvious but it bears repeating if it prevents injury to one of our children in Acadiana that may be in back of or in front of a car or truck: before getting in a vehicle, all drivers, even those without children of their own, should walk all the way around their parked vehicles to check for children, or anything that could attract a child, such as a pet or toy.

According to US News and World Report, Louisiana ranks #3 among the 10 worst states for pedestrian traffic deaths. We should do better to prevent personal injury accidents here in Lafayette! There were 77 pedestrian deaths in Louisiana in the first half of 2018, compared with 69 deaths during the same time frame in 2017, according to the report.

Be careful the moment you get in the driver’s seat.  Pay attention to your surroundings as soon as you turn on your ignition. Listening to loud music while you’re backing up can hinder your ability to avoid many kinds of accidents. The best thing to do is get out of your vehicle, and check the area behind your vehicle. Many large truck companies, such as UPS, instruct their drivers to avoid backing up altogether.

Obviously it is not just children who are injured by vehicles backing up. At Joseph Joy and Associates, day in and day out, in parking lots all over Lafayette, Acadiana and South Louisiana, there are pedestrians at risk of being hit by a careless driver backing out of a parking space. Whether it is at a grocery store or shopping center parking lot, drivers need to be extremely careful and look in all directions for pedestrians either in front or back of their vehicle, not to mention cars and trucks that might be approaching from a narrow lane.

It is such an unfortunate and common occurrence that the Louisiana legislature has a longstanding law on the books:

La. Stat. title 32 § 281
Current with changes from the 2019 Legislative Session
Section 32:281 – Limitations on backing

A. The driver of a vehicle shall not back the same unless such movement can be made with reasonable safety and without interfering with other traffic.

B. The driver of a vehicle shall not back the same upon any shoulder or roadway of any controlled-access highway except as a result of an emergency caused by an accident or breakdown of a motor vehicle.
La. R.S. § 32:281

Louisiana is a comparative fault state, meaning that a judge or jury will take into account the negligence of either party in a lawsuit. It is a highly disputed issue and requires an experienced attorney like Joseph Joy to protect your rights, especially in a contested backing up accident.

Civil Code Art. 2323 — Comparative fault

Art. 2323. Comparative fault
A. In any action for damages where a person suffers injury, death, or loss, the degree or percentage of fault of all persons causing or contributing to the injury, death, or loss shall be determined, regardless of whether the person is a party to the action or a nonparty, and regardless of the person’s insolvency, ability to pay, immunity by statute, including but not limited to the provisions of R.S. 23:1032, or that the other person’s identity is not known or reasonably ascertainable. If a person suffers injury, death, or loss as the result partly of his own negligence and partly as a result of the fault of another person or persons, the amount of damages recoverable shall be reduced in proportion to the degree or percentage of negligence attributable to the person suffering the injury, death, or loss.
B. The provisions of Paragraph A shall apply to any claim for recovery of damages for injury, death, or loss asserted under any law or legal doctrine or theory of liability, regardless of the basis of liability.
C. Notwithstanding the provisions of Paragraphs A and B, if a person suffers injury, death, or loss as a result partly of his own negligence and partly as a result of the fault of an intentional tortfeasor, his claim for recovery of damages shall not be reduced.
Amended by Acts 1979, No. 431, §1; Acts 1996, 1st Ex. Sess., No. 3, §1, eff. April 16, 1996.

Whether you are elsewhere in the United States, in Lafayette, Morgan City, Ville Platte or Lake Charles, driving demands our full attention.  If you or someone you know has been injured by a negligent driver, you may be able to file a claim against the driver for negligence. If you know someone who’s been injured due to no fault of their own, ensure they get the help they deserve. The personal injury lawyers at Joseph Joy and Associates have been serving clients in Acadiana for 40 years, and have the experience to get your case successfully resolved. Contact us at (337) 232-8123. We’re ready to help.

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