When someone is driving too closely behind and tailgating another vehicle, there can sometimes be a powerful temptation to engage in brake checking. However, when drivers engage in this type of activity, it creates a variety of dangers that can lead to a serious accident. Just because someone engages in brake checking does not mean that he or she is going to automatically receive a settlement check from the insurance company. Instead, serious accidents and life-changing injuries can result.
Although tailgating can be frustrating, it should not serve as a basis for putting the safety and lives of other people in other vehicles at risk. If you are on the receiving end of brake checking and you suffered injuries in the accident, then you may file an insurance claim or truck accident lawsuit against the at-fault driver, seeking monetary compensation and damages for the injuries you sustained. A skilled car accident lawyer should assist you with filing your claim, and if necessary, filing a lawsuit against the driver who engaged in brake checking.
What Is Brake Checking and What Are the Potential Dangers?
Brake checking occurs when a driver immediately slams on his or her brakes when the person behind him or her is following too closely or engaging in tailgating. Brake checking is something that a driver should never do since it can lead to a serious car accident and injuries for the driver and other vehicle occupants. Sometimes, the accident could even result in one or more fatalities.
Drivers who engage in brake checking often state that they did so to try to teach the tailgating driver a lesson. At other times, the brake-checking driver may have simply wanted to stop the other driver from tailgating.
Although tailgating and following too closely can be frustrating, this is never an excuse to engage in conduct that could cause an accident and put the lives of other drivers and their passengers in danger. On busy roads with lots of traffic, brake checking can result in multi-vehicle pile-ups and chain-reaction collisions that involve numerous vehicles on the roadway and result in numerous injuries.
It is also important to keep in mind that brake checking does not always result in a rear-end-type collision. In some instances, when a driver brake checks, the tailgating driver could immediately switch lanes and cause a multi-vehicle collision that way.
Is Brake Checking Legal?
The act of engaging in brake checking is against the law in many different states, including the State of Georgia. Therefore, a driver should never engage in this activity. Instead of engaging in brake checking, a driver should try to switch lanes as soon as he or she possibly can. If the driver cannot switch lanes right away, he or she should maintain the current speed and then change lanes whenever it becomes safe to do so. As another alternative to brake checking, the front driver could also take the nearest exit off the road and take another route to escape tailgaters.
In most rear-end car accident cases, it is the rear driver who is liable. However, in brake-checking accident cases, this may not be the case. If the front driver acted out of malice or anger—or if the front driver clearly engaged in some type of negligent action that put other drivers at risk of danger—then the brake-checking driver could be found fully or at least partially responsible for the ensuing accident.
This is because drivers are responsible for operating their vehicles carefully and safely at all times for the benefit of other drivers and their passengers who are on the roadway. When they fail to do so – such as when brake checking – the law holds them liable for the harm they cause.
Why Do Drivers Brake Check?
There are a variety of reasons why drivers engage in brake checking. In some cases, they do it out of frustration because another driver insists on driving too closely behind them. At other times, they act out of malice—or in an attempt to try to frighten or punish the rear driver. Finally, some drivers engage in brake checking to see if they can cause the other driver to rear-end them, hopefully putting them in a position to file a truck accident claim for which they might recover monetary compensation.
Whatever the reasoning, however, engaging in brake checking can often backfire on the brake-checking driver. The front driver might be the one to cause an accident, and that accident could have serious and sometimes fatal consequences. It could also bring about a multi-vehicle collision which puts the lives of many other drivers and passengers in danger.
What Can I Do if I Suffer Injuries in a Brake-Checking Accident?
There is no denying the motor vehicle drivers who engage in brake checking can bring about serious and forceful collisions that result in driver and passenger injuries (and sometimes, fatalities). If you suffered injuries in a motor vehicle accident caused by a driver who brake checked, you might pursue monetary compensation for all of your losses.
In fault-based states, you can take action against the at-fault driver and that driver’s insurance company for any damages you suffer in a motor vehicle collision. To recover monetary compensation, you must prove that the other driver violated his or her duty of care and acted negligently or recklessly.
A driver violates the duty of care by acting unreasonably under the circumstances—usually by violating one or more traffic laws that are on the books. For example, the driver may stop too short or may act out of malice or extreme negligence when he or she brake checks. In addition, you must demonstrate that you suffered one or more personal injuries because of the accident caused by the brake checking driver.
If you sustained injuries in a brake-checking accident, you can first file a claim with the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company. You should take this step with the help of an experienced attorney who regularly files car accident claims.
Once the insurance company reviews the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident, it will typically determine liability. If the insurance company accepts liability for the accident, then your attorney could submit a demand package seeking financial recovery for all of your losses and attempt to settle the case.
Demand packages should not simply list the damages you’re claiming, but should also include evidence to prove those damages and the severity of your injuries.
For example, it might include:
- A copy of the police or EMT report detailing your condition at the scene
- Copies of all of your medical records and bills
- Statements from medical experts regarding future treatment you will need
- Lost wage documentation
- Photographs of the property damage and your injuries
- A victim impact statement
A victim impact statement comes directly from the accident victim and describes the impact that the accident and subsequent injuries had on the accident victim’s life and well-being. For example, due to the brake-checking accident, the accident victim may no longer take part in certain activities that he or she enjoyed before the accident. Physical pain and suffering and mental trauma are also common losses described in the victim impact statement.
Once the adjuster for the at-fault driver’s insurance company reviews all of the pertinent documentation, he or she might make an offer to settle your accident case. You should always speak with an experienced car accident lawyer about the insurance company’s initial settlement offer before you sign anything.
These offers are typically low and may be far below the true value of your truck accident case. At this early juncture, the insurance company is just trying to see if it can settle the case for a small amount of money. An experienced car accident lawyer, on the other hand, can negotiate on your behalf and work to try to reach a more favorable result with the insurance company. If the insurance company refuses to offer you reasonable compensation for your injuries in the brake-checking accident, you always have the option of filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Filing a Lawsuit Arising from a Brake Checking Accident
In some instances, you might be in a position to file a lawsuit arising from injuries you suffered in a brake-checking accident. This is generally true in cases when the at-fault driver’s insurance company refuses to offer you appropriate monetary compensation for your injuries.
Just because you file a lawsuit in the case, however, it does not necessarily mean that your case will go in front of a jury in a courtroom. In fact, many car accident cases settle long before the case ever gets to a jury trial. Car crash lawsuits can settle at any point along the way.
Filing a lawsuit in the civil court system arising from a brake checking accident merely gets the ball rolling on litigation, and the court will establish deadlines by which various milestones in the case must occur. For example, the court will usually set a deadline for written and oral discovery.
Discovery is the process that allows the parties to exchange documents and evidence, and discovery can be helpful when it comes to determining the actual settlement value of the case. During a deposition in a car accident case, the defense attorney will typically ask the accident victim questions about how the accident occurred, the injuries he or she suffered in the accident, and any permanent impacts of those injuries. In addition to discovery, the court will typically schedule one or more pre-trial or settlement conferences, during which the parties and the lawyers will meet in an attempt to try and resolve the accident claim.
If the case does not settle, the parties could elect to take their case to trial before a jury, after which the jury members will decide all of the disputed legal issues in the case. In brake-checking accidents where fault or liability is in dispute, a jury trial may be the only option. However, if liability is not a contested issue, the parties could decide to mediate their case or allow an arbitrator to decide the outcome of their case.
If you suffered injuries in a brake-checking accident, an experienced car accident attorney near you can explain all of your legal options in clear and easy-to-understand terms. Your lawyer could also help you decide on which course of action has the best chances of success in your particular accident case.
Recoverable Damages in Brake Checking Accident Cases
If you sufficiently demonstrate that another driver maliciously, unreasonably, or negligently caused your brake checking-accident, you should recover full financial recovery for all of your damages. Damages aim to compensate you for the injuries suffered, as well as for the financial and personal consequences resulting from your accident.
For example, you might recover compensation for all of your medical treatment expenses and medical procedures that you had to endure because of your injuries. If you had to miss time from work because of injuries you suffered in the accident, you could make a lost wage claim and/or a claim for loss of earning capacity. Other out-of-pocket expenses are equally reimbursable as part of a truck accident damages claim.
In addition to recovering economic damages for your injuries, you could also file a claim for non-economic damages. Those damages compensate accident victims for their pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of use of a body part, mental anguish, emotional distress, and loss of family support or spousal companionship.
The best way to start the process of standing up for your rights as an injured brake-checking victim is to contact a knowledgeable car crash attorney near you. The right lawyer can evaluate whether you have a claim and, if so, assist you with pursuing and recovering the damages that you need and deserve for your injuries.