What Should I Do If I Was in an Accident Caused by Brake Checking?
Brake checking is a maneuver in which a driver intentionally hits the brakes, often forcing the following driver to also brake or take evasive action. It generally happens in a road rage or aggressive driving incident and is not an approved driving maneuver. It could also be a means of committing insurance fraud. If someone caused your car accident by brake checking, you could have the right to hold him or her liable for your damages.
What Is the Point of Brake Checking?
Brake checking typically has one of two purposes: to force another driver to move or to commit insurance fraud. The goal of brake checking for a dangerous, negligent or reckless driver will be to send a signal to the following driver. Driver A might brake check Driver B, for instance, if Driver B is following too closely, tailgating, honking, flashing his or her lights, or otherwise driving aggressively. Brake checking in this scenario would act as a warning or threat to the following driver. It may force the driver to hit the brakes, increase following distance or go around Driver A.
Brake checking may also be a way for a driver to commit insurance fraud. Driver A might intentionally cause a rear-end collision by abruptly slamming on the brakes. Then, Driver A may file an insurance claim for injuries and property damages against Driver B. Driver B may be able to argue insurance fraud if he or she can prove Driver A had no reason to brake. If a driver abruptly hits the brakes to avoid an accident, such as to avoid striking an animal, it is not brake checking. A driver has the right to hit the brakes to avoid an unexpected obstacle. The following driver should leave enough distance between the vehicles to be able to hit the brakes in time to avoid a car accident.
Is it Illegal in Massachusetts?
Most states do not have laws specifically banning brake checking. Instead, they prohibit all acts of reckless driving. In Massachusetts, General Laws Chapter 90, section 24 makes reckless driving illegal. The Commonwealth’s definition of reckless driving is to operate a motor vehicle in a way that endangers public safety. This is a broad definition that can include speeding, drunk driving, drowsy driving, drag racing, red-light running and tailgating. Brake checking can constitute reckless driving in Massachusetts, especially if it causes an accident. The brake checker could receive a traffic citation or even criminal charges depending on the severity and circumstances of the incident.
Is the Brake Checker Liable If They Cause an Accident?
If you get into an accident with someone because that person brake checked you, do not admit fault. Call the police from the scene of the collision. Do not apologize to the other driver, but remain polite while you ask for his or her name and insurance information. When the police arrive, give the officer your version of events. Explain why you believe the driver in front of you slammed on the brakes for no other reason than to cause an accident. An investigation of the crash, including speaking to eyewitnesses, could help establish the guilt of the other driver for causing the accident by brake checking. This could protect you from liability for the crash.
In Massachusetts, liability for an auto accident will not matter unless victims have serious or life-changing injuries. Massachusetts uses a no-fault car accident law, meaning all people involved in an auto accident will seek benefits from their own insurance providers regardless of fault unless the crash qualifies as an exception. Exceptions exist for accidents that cause broken bones, disabilities, disfigurement, permanent scarring or wrongful death. Without a serious injury, you will seek benefits from your insurer even if you believe the other driver is at fault due to brake checking. If your injuries are serious, however, you may be able to hold the other driver liable. Talk with our Boston personal injury attorneys.