My daughter was driving on a two lane road that is adjacent to the parking lot on her college campus. There is opposing traffic in the left lane and she was driving behind a jeep in the right lane. The jeep had fully passed a parking lot aisle to the left and she also passed a speed bump.
The driver of the jeep decided to reverse her car while in the right lane in order to get back to the parking lot aisle that she had just passed. My daughter was driving behind her at parking lot speed and she did not expect her to drive in reverse. They hit on the speed bump.
It seems that they hit at an angle. The damage to the jeep was in the rear right side of her vehicle and the damage to my daughter's car was to the left front driver's side of her vehicle. There is more damage to my daughter's car (front hood damage) because her car sits lower than the jeep.
My daughter took video of the the two lane road which shows that the driver of the jeep would have had to reverse backwards several feet to get back to the parking lot aisle on the left. This seems like a very negligent move to make.
After they hit, the driver of the jeep told my daughter that she looked before she reversed her car and she didn't see her, and asked where she came from. My daughter told her that she was behind her the whole time. The driver of the jeep told her that it will most likely be determined to be her fault since she was driving behind her.
My husband doesn't agree with this because the driver of the jeep started driving backwards in the middle of the two lane road. Also, the fact that the impact to the jeep's vehicle is on the right side and the damage to my daughter's left seems to show that it wasn't a rear end job or a case of following too close.
What are your thoughts? Does my daughter have ANY liability here? How can she prove she was not at fault, and the driver of the jeep negligently reversed in the lane? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Driver backed up in lane of traffic?":
Lori (Corona, CA):
The State of California follows the Pure Comparative Fault Rule. This rule allows a damaged party to recover even if the damaged party was at fault. If that's the case, the damaged party’s compensation will be reduced by the percentage of his or her comparative contribution to the accident.
From the facts you present, your daughter and the other driver may share some degree of comparative fault.
Your daughter may have contributed to the accident by following too closely. California follows the "reasonable and prudent" rule, meaning the vehicle following must stay behind the vehicle in front by a reasonable and prudent distance. The driver of the jeep also contributed to the accident by backing up.
Your facts seem to indicate the driver of the jeep should be mostly responsible for the accident. While a driver is supposed to stay a reasonable and prudent distance behind, the court would likely hold that backing up was comparatively more negligent than following too closely.
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