Who Is Liable in a Brake Check Accident in California?

Car Accidents Caused By Brake Checking

who is liable in a rear end accident caused by brake checking?

Brake checking is a dangerous and illegal maneuver that causes many rear-end accidents in California. In a brake check accident, the brake checking driver and the trailing driver may share liability. Therefore, determining and proving fault in these kinds of cases can become particularly complex.

If you suffered injuries in an accident involving brake checking, it’s crucial to speak to an experienced car accident lawyer. A California personal injury attorney can help you gather evidence and prove that the other driver’s negligence caused the accident.


What Is Brake Checking and Why Is It Dangerous?

Brake checking, also known as brake testing, is a dangerous driving behavior that occurs when a driver abruptly slams on their brakes or taps on them multiple times to warn another motorist. A driver may make this aggressive maneuver to warn tailgaters or to express frustration or anger.

Aggressive driving behaviors are common among US drivers. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, about 80% of motorists expressed anger, aggression, or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the previous 30 days.

Sudden braking can catch other motorists off guard and cause a rear-end collision. It’s especially dangerous on highways at high speeds or in heavy traffic. Additionally, brake checking can escalate road rage situations and put other road users at risk.

Why Do Drivers Brake Check?

  1. Retaliatory Braking: One of the primary causes of brake checking is tailgating. Drivers who feel pressured by a vehicle following too closely may react impulsively by brake checking to deter or force the trailing driver to back off.
  2. Insurance Fraud: Brake checking is sometimes used as a tactic to commit insurance fraud. In these cases, a driver intentionally causes a rear-end collision to file a fraudulent insurance claim for vehicle damage and personal injury compensation. 
  3. Intimidation: A driver may brake check to intimidate or retaliate against another driver behind them. For example, a driver may use sudden braking in response to perceived slights or to react to another person’s aggressive driving behavior.


Is Brake Checking Illegal?

Brake checking is illegal in California and is a form of aggressive driving. According to the California Vehicle Code Section 22109, drivers cannot suddenly stop or decrease their speed on a highway without giving an appropriate signal to the drivers behind them.

Brake Checking and Road Rage

Brake checking falls under the category of road rage, which includes aggressive driving behaviors intended to intimidate, harm, or retaliate against other drivers. Road rage can include engaging in dangerous behaviors such as tailgating, cutting off other drivers, and verbal or physical confrontations.

Consequences of Brake Checking

Brake checking is classified as dangerous or reckless driving, and depending on the severity and consequences of the action, it can result in fines, driver’s license suspension, and higher insurance rates. If the crash results in a fatality, it can also lead to criminal charges. 


How to Respond to Brake Checking

driver brake checks rear driver

Here are steps to take if you encounter a brake checking driver:

  • Avoid Retaliating: Keep your composure and avoid retaliating. Reacting aggressively can worsen the situation and lead to a serious car accident.
  • Increase Following Distance: Slow down and increase the distance between your vehicle and the brake checking driver.
  • Do Not Attempt to Overtake the Driver: Avoid making sudden or aggressive maneuvers to pass the brake checking driver.
  • Avoid Making Gestures: Refrain from yelling, honking, or making hand gestures that could escalate the situation.
  • Stay Alert and Drive Defensively: Keep an eye on the road and other vehicles to anticipate any sudden movements by the brake checking driver or other drivers reacting to the situation.
  • Report the Driver: Report aggressive drivers to local law enforcement with as many details as possible, including the location, time, and any identifying information about the vehicle.


Common Injuries Sustained in Brake Checking Accidents

Common injuries sustained in brake check accidents include:

  • Whiplash: Whiplash is common in rear-end collisions and occurs when the neck is forcefully moved in a sudden back-and-forth motion.
  • Head and Brain Trauma: Head injuries like concussions can occur from the head striking the steering wheel, dashboard, or windows. Sudden blows to the head can also damage brain structures and nerve endings, resulting in traumatic brain injuries.
  • Broken Bones: The force of the collision can lead to fractures in the arms, legs, ribs, and other parts of the body.
  • Spinal Injuries: The force of impact in a car accident can cause damage to the spinal cord, which can lead to long-term disabilities or paralysis.
  • Internal Injuries: Car accidents can result in internal bleeding and organ damage.


Determining Fault in a Brake Checking Accident

car crash

Liability in a brake checking accident is complex and often depends on the specifics of the incident. If the lead driver is found guilty of intentional brake checks, they may be deemed primarily at fault for the car crash.

However, if the rear driver was tailgating, speeding, or distracted driving, they may share a portion of the liability. California follows the principle of comparative negligence, which means that the parties involved may pursue compensation even if they are partially liable for the accident.

Therefore, each party may recover compensation depending on their share of fault. For example, if the trailing driver was 30% liable and the other driver was 70%, then the rear driver may recover 70% of the damages in a personal injury lawsuit. A personal injury attorney can help you gather compelling evidence, prove fault, and hold the at-fault driver liable.


What to Do After a Brake Checking Accident

  1. Get to Safety: If you are able to, move to a safe location and check yourself and others for injuries. 
  2. Call 911: Call the police and wait for the authorities to arrive at the accident scene. Ensure you obtain a police report.
  3. Gather Evidence: If it’s safe to do so, take pictures and videos of the accident scene, road conditions, skid marks, broken glass, property damage, and any visible injuries.
  4. Exchange Information: Collect information from the other driver, including their address, driver’s license, license plate, and insurance company details.
  5. Speak to Witnesses: Obtain contact information from witnesses and ask if they are willing to provide their statement of how the accident occurred.
  6. Report the Accident: Notify your insurance company about the motor vehicle accident as soon as possible.
  7. Seek Medical Attention: Even if injuries seem minor, it’s important to get a medical evaluation.
  8. Consult an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer: Contact a car accident lawyer who will protect your rights and fight for fair compensation.


Call Our Award-Winning Personal Injury Law Firm Today

If you are involved in a brake checking accident caused by another person’s negligence or misconduct, it is crucial to seek legal assistance promptly. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of gathering evidence, filing a car accident claim, and negotiating with insurance companies.

At Alpha Accident Lawyers, we are dedicated to helping injured victims obtain justice. Our award-winning car accident lawyers can help you hold the responsible party liable and recover fair compensation for your injuries and losses. Call our California law office today to schedule a no-obligation, free consultation.

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