Brake-Check Crashes – What Drivers Need to Know

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on February 7, 2023 in Car Accidents
Updated on May 2, 2024

brake-check crashesWhen other drivers follow behind your vehicle too closely, it can be tempting to do a brake check to give them the hint to back off. This is really not a good idea, however, and it could even incite the other driver to road rage, which could put you in danger or cause a crash.

PKSD explains more about why brake-checking is illegal driving behavior and how it could lead to a dangerous crash.

If you get injured in a brake-check crash caused by another driver, you may be eligible to seek a claim for compensation. Contact our firm to meet with one of our experienced Milwaukee-area vehicle accident lawyers. Your initial case review carries no obligation and is completely free.

Request a FREE Case Review Today.  414-333-3333

What Does it Mean to Do a Brake Check?

A brake check is what happens when a driver slams on his or her brakes suddenly with no reason and without warning. This type of aggressive behavior is both intentional and illegal in many states, including Wisconsin.

There are times when drivers need to slam on their brakes for legal reasons. For example, if a child darts into the road or a vehicle pulls in front of you without warning. However, a brake check is a deliberate maneuver. Often it may cause the tailing vehicle to rear-end the brake-checking driver.

If you are injured in a brake-check crash, you can be sure the driver who slammed on the brakes is hoping that liability for the crash will be placed on you. Often drivers who rear-end the vehicle in front of them may be held liable for the damages. However, if a crash investigation reveals the rear-end crash was due to a deliberate brake check, you may be eligible to hold that at-fault driver liable for any damages that resulted.

Why Do Drivers Risk a Crash By Brake-Checking Other Vehicles?

Road rage is often the biggest reason. Some drivers have a shorter fuse than others. Drivers may resort to this behavior if someone does something they feel is offensive or causes inconvenience. A driver may brake-check you for many reasons, including:

  • If you were following them too closely – aka tailgating
  • Cut them off when you merged into their lane
  • Failed to signal before changing traffic lanes
  • To purposely annoy you or get you to move out of their way
  • To scam you by trying to cause a crash for insurance fraud

Are Brake Checks Illegal in Wisconsin?

There is no specific law that says brake checking is illegal. However, the act of doing a brake check can be classified as aggressive driving behavior, which is illegal in Wisconsin. Drivers who engage in this type of behavior risk causing harm to others.

Drivers who break the law in this way can be ticketed or face other legal penalties.

Who is Liable for a Brake-Check Crash?

Establishing liability for a brake-check crash is really difficult. As the victim, you have to be able to prove your case. In this situation that means you – or your attorney – need to prove that:

  • The driver who slammed on their brakes owed you a legal duty
  • It was a brake check and an act of negligence as there was no emergent reason to stop
  • The alleged negligence caused your crash and real damages – such as medical costs and lost wages

These types of crashes can be challenging because, in a rear-end crash, it is often the tailing driver who is liable. Without evidence, it can be difficult to prove that the driver in front brake-checked you to deliberately cause a rear-end crash.

How Can You Prove an Intentional Brake-Check?

Once you have established liability for the brake-check crash that injured you, it will be necessary to gather strong evidence to support your claim, such as:

  • Video footage of the incident – such as from a traffic cam, dash cam or cellphone capture
  • Credible witness testimony – objective third parties carry more weight with the insurance company than the statement of an injured driver seeking compensation
  • Event Data Recorder (EDR) – your vehicle’s EDR may have recorded the at-fault driver’s actions leading up to the crash which could help to support your claim.
  • Documentation from a police report – This can be very useful if the responding officer determines a brake check caused your crash

Your best bet is to hire an experienced attorney who knows how to gather evidence and build a strong case on your behalf.

What if the Brake-Checking Driver Was Intending to Commit Insurance Fraud?

One increasing type of fraud involves one or more persons intentionally causing a crash and then making the victim (the person who was scammed) look like the guilty party. This enables the criminal to then go after the victim’s insurance company for a payout.

If you work with an attorney, and we strongly recommend that you do in this situation, you may be able to prove the other party deliberately caused the crash by doing a brake check.

How Can You Avoid Being Involved in a Brake-Check Crash?

There are several steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of a brake-check crash, including:

  • Avoid tailgating: Anytime you follow another vehicle too closely, you risk rear-ending that vehicle. Even if the driver in front does not do a brake check, he or she may need to slam on the brakes for an actual emergency. Additionally, if you rear-end a vehicle because you were following too closely, you could be the one paying for the damages.
  • Pass slower drivers: If the driver in front of you is going too slowly, resist the temptation to engage in angry behavior. Not only is this illegal, but it could cause a crash – and you would likely be held liable in that type of situation.
  • Remember your duty of care: How you drive could even unintentionally lead to a crash. Therefore, be sure to allow enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you.

Contact Our Trusted Law Firm After Being Injured in a Crash

Sometimes you may get injured in a crash, despite your best efforts. If this happens, there are two things we recommend doing immediately. The first is to see to your health. Do not wait to seek medical care as your injuries could be internal and more severe than you may think.

At PKSD, we are prepared to help victims injured in a car crash. Whether or not you think you have a case, you can contact our law offices to request a free case review. You can meet with one of our qualified attorneys and learn if you have legal options – all at no cost or obligation to you.

If you choose our firm to represent you, there is nothing up front for you to pay – no costs or fees. We do not get paid unless we win your case.

Experienced Lawyers. Proven Results. 414-333-3333

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