Who Is At Fault If You Rear-End Someone Who Brake Checks You?
Most of us have been tempted to tailgate another vehicle for one reason or another. However, this driving habit is dangerous and may incite anger in the driver in front. It is a common cause of rear-end crashes, especially if the person in front brake checks you. Have you been injured in a brake check crash? If so, our experienced and dedicated Las Vegas vehicle collision lawyers at High Stakes Injury Law are ready to help. Call today for a free consultation and learn more about legal options that may apply in your situation.
What is Brake Checking?A brake check, sometimes called a brake test, is when a driver suddenly and intentionally slams on his or her brakes. Typically, this maneuver is done for no other reason than to give a tailgating driver an aggressive hint to back off. Brake checks may surprise the driver following too closely, but the outcome is rarely a good one. Often, it may lead to a collision or incite further acts of road rage. In either outcome, you and others on the road around you may get seriously hurt.
Brake Checks Are IllegalHowever tempting it may be to try to get back at a tailgating driver, brake checks are never a good idea. Even though following too closely is illegal in Nevada, so is brake-checking. As annoying and dangerous as a tailgating driver is, the smartest approach is to move out of his or her way as soon as traffic permits it. Safe driving is not about being right or proving a point. It is about responding defensively to help keep you from being in or causing a crash.
Who is Liable for a Brake-Check Crash?Tailing drivers are often fully to blame for a rear-end crash. However, in a brake-check crash, both parties could share liability for any damages. This is because both brake-checking and following another vehicle too closely are traffic violations and forms of aggressive driving.
Drivers Following Too Closely May Be Partly LiableIn Nevada, drivers are required to leave a “reasonable and prudent space” between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them. When doing so, drivers should have sufficient time to stop if the vehicle in front encounters a hazard and slams on their brakes. Being that close to the back of another vehicle leaves drivers no time to react to an unexpected road hazard – or a brake check.
Brake Checks Are IntentionalBrake checks, no matter how you look at them or try to rationalize them, are an intentional act. They are also considered a type of aggressive driving or the result of road rage. Since both behaviors are illegal, the real question may be who will be found more at fault if a crash occurs?
Challenges of Proving Fault for a Brake Check CrashUnless you have solid proof, it may be difficult to prove a brake check. If that is the case and you are the tailing driver, you could be held liable for rear-ending the car in front. However, there is some evidence that may help to support your claim:
- A documented police report if an officer determines brake-checking occurred
- Statements from one or more credible witnesses who saw what happened
- Your own dash cam or traffic cams may also have captured the incident
What if a Driver’s Brake Check Caused a Multi-Vehicle Collision?A multi-car crash is another possible result of a brake check. The brake-checking driver could lose control of his or her vehicle, or the tailgating driver may swerve to avoid hitting the car in front. In either situation, one or more vehicles could end up in another lane of traffic and hit other vehicles. This is just one more reason why brake checking is so dangerous. If your vehicle is hit by another driver trying to avoid a crash that is, ultimately, due to another driver’s brake check, you likely share no liability. Your best bet is to work with a qualified attorney who will fight to make sure you are not unfairly assessed with fault.
How Can You Avoid Being Involved in a Brake-Check Crash?It is not always possible to avoid a crash, especially if the negligent actions of others cause it. You can, however, take measures to prevent causing one. For instance:
- Allow more time: Brake checks and other aggressive driving are often due to impatience or worry about being late.
- When stuck behind a slower driver: Look for a safe opportunity to pass – and take it.
- Never tailgate: This behavior could incite road rage and other aggressive driving behaviors, such as brake checking.
- Do not drive when overly emotional: High emotion can impede your decision-making and ability to drive safely.
- Consider your duty of care: Even if it is unintended, your negligent actions could cause serious or fatal harm to others.