By Jordan W. Charness
My 19 year-old six-foot-one son came bursting into my room: “Mommy did it again!” he exclaimed. “She backed her car right into another car… one more time!”
It is true that my wife drives a great big SUV. It is also true that it is very difficult to see cars behind the SUV when backing up due to the fact that it is quite a bit taller than most cars. It is also true that, a few weeks after we bought the car, I backed it into a parked car that I couldn’t see. But at least I had a reason: the car I hit was tiny and black and it was pitch dark out.
Immediately after that little incident we had back-up sensors installed in her car so that it would notify us whenever there were obstacles to our backing up. In addition to helping with parking, it does help us avoid hitting cars. Clearly, however, it is not foolproof.
In my wife’s case, this is the second time that she had backed into a car in broad daylight. In neither case was she parking; in both cases she was backing out of a parking spot, the first time in our driveway and the second in the parking lot of a large shopping centre.
Today’s incident was described by her as her getting into the car, checking her rear-view mirror, putting the car in reverse, listening to the beep indicating that the backup sensors were active, and then backing up into a car that was driving by!
She claims that it really was not her fault because: a) the car wasn’t there when she looked in her mirror; and b) perhaps the back-up sensors were faulty because they failed to warn her of the car behind her. Apparently, looking in her rear-view mirror while backing out of the parking space, or turning her head around, were not options.
Unfortunately, the law would not agree with her. In virtually all cases, the person who is backing up is considered to be responsible for the accident. You’re supposed to be doubly prudent when backing your car and will be deemed responsible particularly if you hit another car broadside as she did.
To add insult to injury, she caused about $800 damage to a car that the other driver was in the process of selling for a whopping $1,200! Clearly, a big dent in the passenger door that made it difficult to open and shut the door would not increase the market value of this vehicle.
Reporting this little incident to her insurance company was going to be more trouble than it would be worth since, although her insurance company would pay for the damage, it would be considered as an accident caused by her and listed as such on her driving record.
The other driver only had one-way insurance and although he was not at fault for this accident his insurance company would not pay him anything even if he chose to report the accident.
Both he and she decided that it would be best if he got the car repaired and I paid for it. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the accident.
By the way, in case you were wondering, the back-up sensors were working just fine. You do actually have to pay attention to the beeping and look behind you every time you back up!