Generally, a driver backing up onto a public street has a duty to look out for traffic on the street and to yield the right of way to them. Additionally, there may be a duty to give a warning or signal before backing. While backing up is not in and of itself negligence, some courts hold that more than ordinary care is required when backing. This does not does not change the universal standard of ordinary care, but simply means that what conduct is adequate to fulfil the duty varies with the circumstances.
In cases of collisions between vehicles backed or backing onto a public street and cars proceeding along it, the most common situation is where the vehicle backing onto the highway has collided with a vehicle proceeding in its proper lane of travel on the same side of the street from which the backing vehicle emerged. In most of these cases, the backing driver has breached a duty which caused injuries, resulting in liability for negligence.
For example, a driver was able to recover when he struck a delivery truck which was backing out of a private driveway. The driver saw the truck backing out and sounded his horn. The truck stopped, but then started again before the collision took place. The court found this to be a breach of duty on the part of the backing driver, making him liable for negligence.
Generally, pedestrians have the right of way over motor vehicles. Pedestrians in the street who have authority to work there are generally in a stronger position to recover than those simply crossing or walking in the street. Pedestrians on the shoulder or untraveled part of the highway are in a better position to recover than those standing on a driveway, because one standing in a driveway should reasonably anticipate they could be in the path of a backing vehicle.
For example, a driver was found liable for hitting a pedestrian who was attempting to guide the car back from a vacant lot into a public street. The court found that the driver turned his course with unexpected sharpness and struck the pedestrian, and that he had backed without warning, and without seeing where the pedestrian was standing.
If you have been involved in an accident with a backing automobile, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. Proving your case can be difficult, but an attorney can help explain the law and your rights so that you can collect damages for your injuries.