No driver likes it when another car follows too closely. However, some drivers get so angry about it they decide to slam on the brakes to scare the tailgating driver. The goal is to get the trailing driver to narrowly avoid a rear-end crash and back off.
Unfortunately, sometimes there is no way to avoid a collision. After the crash, the driver who slammed on the brakes may claim the victim should be partially to blame.
Below, Greg Monforton and Partners’ experienced Windsor vehicle accident lawyers discuss brake-checking crashes, including why they occur and who may be liable. If you were injured in this type of crash, call our experienced lawyers to discuss legal options.
No upfront fees. Free legal consultation.
Call us at: (866) 320-4770.
What Happens in a Brake-Checking Collision?
If someone is following close behind you and you hit the brakes so that the trailing driver must brake hard to avoid a rear-end collision, you have engaged in brake-checking. It is important to note that there was no other, legitimate reason for you to hit the brakes. If someone was following closely behind but you had hit the brakes because of an approaching hazard, you were not brake-checking the other driver.
Why Do Drivers Engage in Brake-Checking?
Some drivers may engage in brake-checking because they are so angry that they want to cause a rear-end collision. If a collision occurs, the driver who brake-checked is likely to blame the trailing driver.
However, most drivers do not want to cause a collision, they simply want to scare the other driver and make them back off or change lanes.
Drivers often engage in brake-checking because they are having a bout of road rage. They may have a short fuse because they are having issues in their personal lives or at work.
Some drivers brake-check as part of an insurance scam. They are trying to cause a crash and get money from the tailgating driver’s insurance company. You may think insurance companies should easily recognize this scam, but it can be tough to prove the crash was caused by brake-checking.
Is Brake-Checking Illegal in Ontario?
Brake-checking is outlawed in Section 172 of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, which bans stunt driving. The law specifically says it is illegal to brake-check or intentionally stop or slow down.
Drivers who brake-check can be ticketed for stunt driving, which can result in severe penalties, including:
- Fine between $2,000 and $10,000, along with a surcharge and court costs
- One to three-year suspension of your driver’s licence if you are convicted
- Mandatory attendance at a driver improvement course
- Six demerit points on your licence
- Up to six months in jail
- 14-day impoundment of your vehicle
The penalties for each subsequent stunt driving offense increase in severity. For example, your driver’s licence could be suspended for up to 10 years after a second stunt driving offense.
Liability For a Brake-Checking Crash
If your lawyer can prove the other driver brake-checked you, that driver can be held liable for the damages you suffered in the crash. After all, brake-checking is illegal, and the crash would not have occurred unless the other driver slammed on the brakes for no legitimate reason.
However, brake-checking can be difficult to prove. Victims need to make sure to report what happened to the police when they arrive at the scene.
While you are waiting for the police to arrive, it is important to avoid a confrontation with the other driver. When you both pull over, the other driver may be so angry that he or she walks over to your car to yell at you. It is vital that you take steps to de-escalate the situation. Do not engage with the other driver and avoid making eye contact.
If the other driver gets out of the car and yells at you or makes threats, inform the police when they arrive. This may help the officer determine if brake-checking occurred.
If the driver is charged with brake-checking, this should help prove your liability claim.
Is the Victim Partially at Fault For Following Too Closely?
Brake-checking often occurs because one driver is following another too closely. This raises questions about the crash victim’s liability for the collision.
This is a question that should be discussed with an experienced lawyer, as there are various factors to consider. However, it is unlikely the victim could be held liable, as there was no legitimate reason for the leading driver to hit the brakes. Brake-checking is also illegal.
While you may be unsure if you bear liability for the crash, you should never admit fault. Admissions of fault can be used against you later, even if other evidence does not support you being found liable.
Avoiding a Brake-Checking Crash
There is no excuse for brake-checking, but you can lower your risk of being involved in this type of crash by making sure not to follow other cars too closely.
If you are in the fast lane and a car in front of you is going too slow for your taste, you can always go around them. There is no excuse for tailgating another car, no matter how slow they may be going. Tailgating can also anger the lead driver, possibly causing them to brake-check you.
Tailgating creates a risk of a rear-end crash without the lead driver brake-checking you. The lead driver may have a legitimate reason for suddenly slamming on the brakes, and if you are tailgating that driver it is going to be much harder to stop without hitting the other car’s bumper.
Contact Greg Monforton and Partners For Post-Crash Legal Help
Were you injured by an angry driver?
Despite what the driver may say after the crash, he or she may be liable for your medical bills and other damages. Call our experienced lawyers to learn more about your potential legal options. There are no upfront costs and we have obtained millions for those injured by negligent drivers.
Give us a call to learn more: (866) 320-4770.