Brake checking is an aggressive driving maneuver that involves slamming or tapping the brakes to intimidate or harass the driver behind you. It is often associated with road rage, and Minnesota courts may categorize it as illegal reckless driving. However, proving fault in these incidents can be complicated, requiring evidence of malicious intent. A car accident lawyer at Sieben Polk P.A. can analyze your brake-checking claim, answer your questions, and guide you through the legal process.
Brake checking is an annoyance that many drivers face. But occasionally, it becomes more serious, resulting in property damage and injury. Drivers who brake check do not usually mean to cause harm, but it can lead to accidents.
In Minnesota and other states, brake checking is not specifically illegal, although a court may find the action falls under careless and reckless driving laws. If you’ve been harmed in a brake-checking incident, Sieben Polk P.A. help you pursue a claim for compensation
What Is Brake Checking?
Brake checking describes a type of aggressive driving. Brake checking occurs when the driver in front suddenly hits their brakes to shock or startle the driver behind them.
Generally, the brake-checking driver does not intend to cause a car wreck. However, accidents from brake checking do occur. Brake checking can cause a crash because the following vehicle may be traveling too close, the driver may be distracted, or the driver cannot slow down or stop in time.
Drivers sometimes employ brake checking for the following reasons:
- To ward off tailgaters by scaring them and causing them to slow down or back off
- To express road rage
- To punish the driver behind them
- To engage in insurance company scams
Is Brake Checking Illegal in Minnesota?
While Minnesota does not have a statute specifically for brake checking, hitting your brakes while driving without good cause may be illegal. It may be considered a form of reckless driving. However, tailgating is also generally illegal, falling under reckless driving as well.
Minnesota Statute 169.13 covers reckless and careless driving.
Depending on the circumstances of your brake-checking incident, you may wish to speak with a lawyer who handles the following:
The car accident lawyers at Sieben Polk P.A. will go through your case’s specifics to determine whether you can recover damages.
Is Brake Checking Illegal in the United States?
Most states have made brake checking illegal directly or indirectly. Alabama and California are the only states with laws specifically making brake checking illegal. The other 48 states, including Minnesota, have laws prohibiting reckless driving, aggressive driving, and careless driving, which cover behavior like brake checking.
Minnesota Statute 169.13 covers reckless and careless driving. Careless driving is defined as operating or stopping a vehicle carelessly in a manner disregarding the safety of others. Reckless driving is defined as “consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk” that your aggressive driving could harm a person or property.
The court will consider the circumstances of the brake-checking incident before deciding whether the incident falls under reckless driving or another relevant state law.
Who Is at Fault for a Brake Checking Collision?
If a brake check incident resulted in a collision, it can be difficult to prove. The court will determine which parties are at fault for the accident. In rear-end collisions, the rear driver is often at fault, but if you can prove the front driver was brake checking, the court may hold them liable.
Fault can be proven in various ways, including:
- Witness statements
- Video footage
- Vehicle damage
- Driver statements
- Skid marks
However, it is challenging to prove intent. It is generally insufficient to show the other driver braked suddenly. You must also demonstrate that they did so with ill intent.
In many auto accidents, one driver bears most of the fault for a crash. However, in Minnesota, fault can be shared between two or more drivers under the state’s modified comparative negligence law, Minnesota Statute 604.01. You can collect damages only if you are not more than 50 percent at fault for the accident. Your damages will be reduced in proportion to your share of the fault.
Who Is Liable in a Crash With a Self-Driving Car?
Self-driving cars and liability are still a gray area since no cars have been certified as fully self-driving. Hypothetically, if the technology fails to work as described, this could result in a product liability case. However, if a driver misuses the technology, the driver could be held liable.
How To Prevent Brake Checking and Road Rage
The best way to prevent brake checking and road rage is by refusing to engage with negligent drivers. Other recommendations include the following:
- Do not tailgate: Pass cars in front according to traffic laws. Tailgating greatly increases your chances of getting into an accident.
- Maintain a safe following distance: The three-second rule is an easy rule of thumb to keep a safe distance between your car and the car in front. Choose a point ahead of you and the car in front. When the car in front passes that point, count to three. If you pass the same point before three, you are too close. Increase the distance in bad weather conditions or if you’re driving a larger vehicle.
- Stay calm: No matter what other drivers are doing, remain calm and focus on operating your vehicle safely.
- Avoid retaliation: Retaliation can cause an otherwise safe situation to escalate quickly into a dangerous one. Even though other drivers can be reckless, do not contribute to the unsafe conditions.
- Avoid driving when stressed: Your driving can put you and everyone else on the road at risk. If you feel you cannot operate your vehicle safely, it’s better not to drive.
- Install a dashcam: Dashcam recordings can provide vital evidence to prove fault. Install a dashcam on your vehicle and make sure it is recording anytime you’re on the road.
- Report aggressive drivers: Aggressive drivers are dangerous to themselves and those around them. Report aggressive drivers to the local police with their license plate numbers.
Brake Checking FAQs
The following are answers to common brake-checking questions.
Who Is at Fault in a Brake Check?
Fault depends on the particular circumstances. Both following too closely and brake checking are at least negligent behavior. The court will determine the at-fault party based on the available evidence.
What Is the Point of Brake Checking?
People brake check for various reasons, including expressing frustration, asserting dominance, teaching a lesson, or engaging in insurance scams.
Is Brake Checking Dangerous?
Yes, brake checking can result in serious injuries or death.
Is it Always My Fault if I Rear-end Someone?
No, if you were obeying the rules of the road and a vehicle brake checks you, the court may not find you liable for a rear-end collision.
Can I Be at Fault for Being Rear-Ended?
The court may find you at fault if you were engaging in reckless, careless, or negligent behavior.
Our RearEnd Accident Lawyers Are Here to Help
If a driver brake-checked you, resulting in an accident, you have a limited time to file your claim. Our personal injury lawyers will provide a free case evaluation and walk you through how we can help you recover compensation.