Hit another car who tried to sneak in as I was backing into a parking space...

by Mena
(Lakewood, NJ)

I was driving down a one way road in a private school parking lot. There are only parking spots on the left side (the other side is just a sidewalk). I found a spot and starting backing up into the spot. Bam! Another car had tried squeezing by between my backing up car and the parking space and I went right into his side door.

Keep in mind that my car was completely perpendicular with the road as I was backing up. Who is at fault in this situation? Shouldn't the other driver have seen I was backing in and not tried to sneak into it? What can I do about this? Thank you.

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ANSWER for "Hit another car who tried to sneak in as I was backing into a parking space...":

Mena (Lakewood, NJ):

From the facts you present, the driver who collided with you was in violation of New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Code - Section 39:4-89 titled "Following; Space Between Vehicles."

Section 39:4-89 applies to private roadways. It reads in part as follows:

"The driver of a vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of the preceding vehicle and the traffic upon, and condition of, the highway."

It appears a police officer was not called to the scene. If an officer had been dispatched it is likely the other driver would have been cited under Section 39:4-89.

It is likely you obtained the driver’s personal contact and insurance information. Contact the driver and ask that your property damage claim be submitted to the driver’s insurance company.

Also contact your insurance company and report the collision. You have to do this even though the other driver was clearly at fault. You must report the collision to your insurance company for two reasons:

First: Your auto policy almost certainly has a cooperation clause, requiring you to notify your insurance company in the event of an accident.

Second: It is always possible the other driver may later claim he or she sustained injuries as a result of the collision, and file a claim with your insurance company.

In the event the driver refuses to cooperate, you have the option of filing a lawsuit in small claims court. New Jersey’s small claims courts have a jurisdictional limit (maximum amount a plaintiff can sue for) of three thousand ($3,000) dollars.

For more information about New Jersey Small Claims Courts go to:
New Jersey Small Claims Law Division

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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Comments for Hit another car who tried to sneak in as I was backing into a parking space...

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Answer
by: Anonymous

A police officer was called and he said that both are wrong, but none are clear cut wrong. He said the insurance company will just make both pay according to percentages.

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