Liability for collision when two cars back up at the same time?

by Anonymous

I was backing up from the north side of a parking lot aisle and the other party was backing up from the South side and one spot over. As I was about 75% out of my spot and angling my car in preparation to move forward, my left rear bumper made contact with the left rear side of other party's vehicle.

Unfortunately we both pulled back into our parking spots w/o taking pictures. However, I claim he began backing up after I had started and of course he claims he started backing up first.

Insurance companies have concluded 50/50 blame which I agree with. However, the other party is refusing to accept 50% blame. He's saying he will pay for repairs on his own, and then take me to court for his losses. There were no witnesses other than his wife and my wife.

Can he really go around the insurance companies like this and take me to court? What are the chances of a judge siding with him and making me pay for his losses? Is there any way I can fight this? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Liability for collision when two cars back up at the same time?":

Anonymous (California):

Yes. The driver can sue you. However if he does, your insurance company will provide legal representation to you at no cost up to the limits of your policy. In the State of California, the minimum limits of required insurance are:

- $15,000 for injury or death to one person, in one accident, including the driver, passenger, or pedestrian
- $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person, in one accident
- $5,000 for damage to property in one accident

Read California car insurance statute: Vehicle Code Section 16056 (a)

From the facts you present, the damage to the other driver's car could not have been extensive. As a result, the driver will likely not be able to find an attorney to agree to represent him. When that occurs, the only recourse the driver would have is to sue you in one of California's Small Claims Courts, which have jurisdiction to hear cases up to $10,000.

No matter what happens, you will almost certainly not have to pay any money. Your insurance company will. And that's only if the driver is successful in his case, which is unlikely.

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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