Is Brake Checking Illegal?

brake check

Many drivers know the feeling of irritation at those who engage in aggressive driving. When someone drives behind you far too closely, this is both aggressive driving and reckless driving. It opens the door for brake checking accidents in which they rear end you after you purposefully brake hard. While it might seem like a good option at first, brake checking is never a good idea for dealing with tailgaters. If you find yourself involved in a brake checking accident, you need an experienced Chicago car accident lawyer on your side.

At Curcio Law Offices, we take great pride in being a premier personal injury law firm in Chicago. We handle a variety of cases, including brake checking accidents, motor vehicle accident cases, insurance fraud, truck accidents in Chicago, and other case types. If you need a rear end car accident lawyer in Illinois, we’re here for you. To schedule a free consultation with us, please call our office at 312-321-1111 or fill out our online intake form.

What Is Brake Checking?

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Brake checking is the practice of slamming on the brakes suddenly while driving in front of another vehicle in the hopes of causing the other car to slam on their brakes or swerve out of the way, preventing an accident. It derives from the widespread belief that insurance companies would hold the victim responsible for failing to provide adequate room to react or brake in an emergency. Many drivers think the practice is completely legal and justifiable, but is it really?

Is Brake Checking Illegal in Illinois?

Brake checking is illegal in the state of Illinois. This is because Illinois law categorizes it as a form of negligent or aggressive driving. Tailgating is highly unpleasant for those being tailgated. However, brake checking is never the answer. If you brake check the other driver, you raise the chances of a rear end collision.

Worse still, you will likely be held at least partially responsible for the rear end accident. Illinois is a comparative fault state. This means that so long as you are under 51% to blame for the accident, you can receive compensation for your injuries from the at fault driver. 

Why Do People Brake Check?

Brake checking is a highly dangerous aggressive driving tactic that has the potential to result in serious injuries. It is also financially damaging for the brake checker, as they could be left to pay for repairs to both cars, as well as medical bills. Unfortunately, brake checking usually occurs for one of two reasons, which we list below.

Road Rage

brake checking car accidents

Even the calmest drivers sometimes experience road rage, especially in high traffic areas. Road rage can lead to a rear end accident through brake checking in a couple of ways. The first way involves a break check on the other driver as a response to them tailgating you. The second way involves the road rager speeding in front of the other driver and slamming the brakes to force them to do the same. This is a very dangerous practice, yet we still see countless dash cam videos of this every week.

Insurance Fraud

In other words, causing a crash for cash. Some cases involve situations when a driver deliberately applies the brakes in order to commit insurance fraud. They hope to get an insurance payout, cash, or both for the damages. 

Can You Brake Check a Tailgater?

Technically, yes. Legally, no. Brake checking a tailgater has far more negative consequences than positive ones. If you brake check the other driver, you could face dangerous driving charges, severe injuries, and being held liable for the crash. 

How Do I Deal with Tailgaters?

how to deal with tailgaters

There are a myriad of ways to deal with tailgaters other than to stop suddenly in front of them. The best way to deal with them is to simply avoid them in the first place. If you see other drivers engage in aggressive driving, remain calm and stay in the right lane. They’ll likely pass you by. Keep your eyes on the road, your speed consistent, and your emotions in check. A brake check accident is the last thing you want to happen, so simply don’t perform the dangerous maneuver.

Why You Should Never Brake Check Another Driver

Tailgating is inconvenient and dangerous. Brake checking may appear to be a sensible option if you are unable to change lanes or believe you should not be required to do so. Some drivers justify their actions by assuming that the rear car is always at fault in rear-end collisions. However, this is simply not the case.

Brake checking causes collisions in the same way that tailgating does. A brake check might prompt a tailgater to ram into your car or swerve erratically, resulting in a single-car or multi-vehicle collision. You may be annoyed by tailgaters, but acting in a way that might hurt others or result in the tailgater’s death or injury is not the solution.

In the event of an accident, brake checkers may be held liable. If you braked for no other purpose than to annoy the motorist in front of you, you might be held liable for the injuries that resulted under comparative negligence statutes. Tailgating and brake checking are both negligent conduct since they show a deliberate disregard for other drivers’ safety.

Brake-checking videos may cause a lot of humiliation in public. If you slammed on your brakes, causing a tailgater to become even more reckless, and causing an accident or near-accident, video evidence of the incident may show up on the internet. Your act of road rage may be seen by people all around the world, and locals may identify your car. Many drivers now utilize dash cams to shield themselves from legal liabilities, and some even record and broadcast road rage incidents online for everyone to see.

What Should I Do in the Event of a Brake Check Crash?

If someone brake checked you, don’t worry. Do not admit fault or apologize for the crash, as you aren’t responsible for it. Contact law enforcement right away. Stay calm as you ask for the contact information of the person who brake checked you. When the police arrive, explain the situation to them and explain why you believe the other driver brake checked you. The police reports will outline the rear end accident in great detail, and you should ask for a copy of the report. It could serve to protect you from liability, as well as to establish the guilt of the other driver. 

Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident Involving Brake Checking?

In most other circumstances, the individual who rear-ended the other motorist is held responsible. This is because it is your obligation as a driver to maintain a safe gap between you and the car in front of you. If they press the brakes, you can stop without striking them.

This does not apply, however, when a deliberate brake check produces a rear-end collision. Because the motorist in front has chosen to brake check the driver behind them, they put themselves and other drivers in a perilous situation by doing so. As a result of their careless driving, they are at fault, or at least somewhat responsible for the accident.

Do Brake Checks Affect Accident Claims?

Yes. Illinois is a modified comparative negligence state. This means that injured parties can collect damages only if they were found less than 50% at fault for the accident. It is highly possible that, if you brake checked another driver, you will be barred from recovering damages. 

Can You Sue for Brake Check Car Accidents?

Yes. The other motorist can be held responsible for the incident if it can be established that they brake checked you and were visibly aggressive. Furthermore, if you or someone you care about has been hurt as a consequence of another driver’s brake checks, you may be entitled to compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.

Keep in mind that you must be able to show that the other motorist was at least 50% to blame for the accident due to their reckless driving. An experienced attorney can assist you in proving this.

How Do I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit for Brake Checking?

In an Illinois car accident case, you can pursue several different forms of compensation, including property damage and medical bill costs. In a modified comparative negligence model, you must prove brake checking in your personal injury case. If you have video footage or witness statements of the road rage incident, this will greatly help you. The more you can prove that, as the rear driver, you were not at fault, the better your chances of receiving compensation will be. Three common methods of recovering damages include the following.

  • Working with an experienced attorney or law firm to file a personal injury claim
  • Filing a car insurance claim with your own insurance company
  • Filing a car insurance claim with the insurance company of the at fault driver

Proving Negligence in a Brake Check Personal Injury Claim

It may be difficult to establish that the other motorist purposefully brake-checked and caused the collision, but it is possible. If you choose a competent vehicle accident litigation firm like Curcio Law Offices, your lawyer will use the following strategies to get this proof.

  • Driving history: Because road rage is typically a habit, a string of similar incidents on the other party’s driving record may be enough to raise suspicions about their motivation. If they were found to blame in those prior accidents may not matter to the court as long as there is a continuous pattern of action.
  • Incident report: The lead driver may provide a statement to the police admitting culpability in many cases. Even if the other motorist denies causing the accident on purpose, the circumstances of the incident may be enough.
  • Eyewitness accounts: Bystanders who observed the collision may be able to vouch for the other driver’s recklessness. Witness evidence may be sufficient to persuade a court that brake-checking had taken place.
  • Video evidence: Because cameras are ubiquitous in today’s environment, there’s a strong chance that your accident was captured on film by a public safety camera, dash cam, or smartphone. It may be obvious that the other motorist was attempting to brake-check you, or it may be sufficient evidence to bring to the court to partly support your argument.

Types of Auto Accidents Caused by Brake Checks

chicago brake check accident lawyer

Common injuries and car accidents sustained as a result of brake testing include the following:

Contact a Chicago Car Accident Attorney Today

After a motor vehicle accident occurs, you likely want to know exactly what your legal rights are. At Curcio Law Offices, we prioritize representation of injured victims in auto accident cases, truck accidents in Chicago, and many other personal injury cases. To schedule a free consultation with our law firm, please call 312-321-1111 or fill out our online intake form.

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