road traffic on a small road

Proving Liability For A Brake-Checking Accident

By Steven Miller
Senior Partner

Brake checking is a form of reckless driving in which a driver suddenly slams on the brakes to deliberately try to cause the vehicle behind to collide into the rear of the brake-checking vehicle. It is sometimes used as a means of intimidation, often in response to perceived tailgating. This behavior can cause serious injuries to the driver behind. However, there’s an assumption that any time a driver hits the back of a car, that driver is responsible for the crash. Overcoming this assumption and proving the driver in front was brake checking is why you need to hire an experienced Queens car accident attorney.

Reckless driving is a broad category of traffic offenses that are illegal in New York. Brake checking can fall under this category if it can be proven that the driver intentionally hit the brakes, aware of what might happen as a result. The brake checker could be charged with reckless endangerment. So even though the rear-end driver is usually held accountable for causing an accident, this is a notable exception to the rule.

If someone is attempting to brake check you, it’s important to avoid the driver if at all possible. Slow down, change lanes, or even exit the highway if necessary. In some cases, the brake checker will still be angry over the tailgating (actual or perceived) and continue to try to brake check the driver behind. But de-escalating the situation usually works and avoids a serious accident.

Proving fault can be difficult because the brake checker will almost certainly blame the rear-end driver for tailgating. If you’ve been in one of these accidents, you should give a statement to police immediately and recount the driver’s behavior. Get a copy of the police report later. Make your own notes about the incident as well.

There may be eyewitnesses who can attest to what the brake-checking driver did. Also, many drivers nowadays use dash cams to record other driver’s reckless actions. If there’s a passenger in your vehicle, that individual may be able to record what’s happening on a smartphone. Surveillance cameras in the area could even be helpful. An attorney can assist in identifying and obtaining the evidence needed to establish liability.

And that can be vitally important considering the damages that you, the victim, may suffer if there’s an accident. For instance, you may be facing steep medical bills for such injuries as:

  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Internal organ damage
  • Internal bleeding
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Back injury

In some of these accidents, the victims unfortunately die. Their eligible survivors have the right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible driver.

Another risk of brake checking is that it can lead to road rage. So the danger you face may not come directly from the brake checking, but from a subsequent altercation with the other driver. Again, de-escalation and avoidance are key. If you feel your safety is being threatened, or you observe any dangerous driving behaviors, alert law enforcement.

We’re here to help you recover damages in the event a brake-checking driver causes injury to you or a loved one. Our firm handles all aspects of the accident investigation, lawsuit, and negotiations with the driver’s insurance company. If you have questions about your legal options after experiencing a brake-checking accident, reach out to Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C.

About the Author
Steven Miller, Esq. is the founding member and Senior Partner in Miller, Montiel & Strano, P.C. Mr. Miller’s extensive career as a trial attorney spans five decades. He tries cases for the catastrophically injured victims of construction site accidents, motor vehicle and premises accidents caused by the negligence of others. Mr. Miller is a detail oriented, tenacious attorney committed to achieving the maximum results for his clients; he has obtained numerous seven figure verdicts and settlements.