We all should keep the roads safe. Being entrusted with that responsibility means we should not engage in reckless behavior, and that includes brake checking our fellow drivers. Brake checking can be dangerous for you and the other drivers on the road. But is that driving maneuver considered illegal in Texas? Could brake checking someone potentially land you in jail?
Those are all important questions that Texas drivers must have the answers to. The expert San Antonio car accident lawyers at our Texas injury law firm tackle those questions in the article. Stay tuned to find out the consequences of brake checking in Texas.
Defining Brake Checking
Before we discuss the legal ramifications of brake checking as a driver in the Lone Star State, we first need to define what that action is. Brake checking is the act of hitting your car’s brakes when another driver is following close behind you. By hitting the brakes suddenly, you are trying to catch the other driver off-guard.
Drivers can brake check in different ways. Some will only tap their brakes lightly to make the driver behind them react. Others will slam on their brakes and force the motorist behind them to stop completely unless they want to end up involved in an accident.
We cannot overstate the dangers of brake checking. If you do that on the highway, you could cause an ugly accident. Brake checking when you are surrounded by numerous other vehicles can also lead to a massive pile-up. To put it simply, brake checking is incredibly risky. It is a type of driving maneuver you should avoid at all costs.
Why Do People Engage in Brake Checking?
Given how dangerous brake checking is, it is fair to ask why drivers would willingly do it. Why would someone risk their safety like that? The reasons detailed below should help shed some light on that matter.
Drivers Brake Check to Discourage Tailgaters
Tailgating occurs when one driver follows the vehicle in front of them too closely. Many drivers do not appreciate having a tailgater behind them. They feel uneasy knowing that another vehicle is sticking way too close. In response to another motorist’s tailgating, a driver may decide to brake check. Basically, they are trying to get the driver to leave them alone by brake checking them.
While the instinct to brake check in that situation is somewhat understandable, it is simply not worth it. If you want to get a driver off your tail, you should consider reporting them to traffic police. Traffic officers hand out tickets for tailgating in Texas so you can teach the annoying driver a lesson that way.
Drivers Brake Check to Involve Other Motorists in an Accident
Some drivers may also brake check to get into an accident. That may seem weird until you realize that they are essentially trying to enact insurance fraud.
They are trying to get you to hit their car so they can secure a payout from your insurer. It is an underhanded trick, and unfortunately, it can be quite effective if the victim has no way to prove that they did not cause the accident. Avoid putting yourself in that vulnerable position by maintaining an appropriate stopping distance.
Drivers Brake Check to Express Their Frustration
Lastly, drivers will also brake check to express how frustrated they are with the other motorists around them. This is not necessarily limited to only tailgating. When someone cuts you off, it is hard not to get annoyed with them. In response, you may try to speed ahead to hit them with a brake check. It is a retaliation born out of frustration.
While your frustration is understandable, you cannot justify your response. Brake checking in that situation can lead to you getting in trouble.
Is Brake Checking Considered Legal in Texas?
Engaging in brake checking is not a good idea. The risk of causing an accident is too significant to ignore. There is no need to put yourself and other drivers at risk like that.
The safety risk alone should convince you not to brake check your fellow drivers. If that is still not enough of a reason to avoid brake checking, you should know that the act can lead to you running afoul of the law. The state of Texas has no specific law in place that makes brake checking illegal. However, the state does have laws that prohibit reckless driving.
Per Texas law, a motorist can be guilty of reckless driving if they operate their vehicle in “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
Given how they word that law, one can reasonably argue that brake checking is an example of someone disregarding the safety of other drivers. It is difficult to describe brake checking as anything but reckless. Even if you only lightly tap your brake, your action can still endanger a fellow driver.
What Are the Penalties of Brake Checking in Texas?
What happens if you are caught brake checking in Texas? Well, you could find yourself facing some potentially stiff penalties. First off, the state may decide to hit you with a fine. According to state law, the maximum fine for a reckless driving violation is $200.
Drivers caught brake checking may also go to the county jail. You could receive up to 30 days because of your ill-advised decision to brake check another driver. In some cases, drivers guilty of brake checking will be fined and sent to county jail. Is all that worth it to exact some revenge on another driver who annoyed you? Steer clear of brake checking and keep your cool so you can avoid a potentially troublesome situation.
What Should You Do if You Are Involved in a Brake Checking Accident?
Being involved in any car accident can be a traumatic and troublesome experience. Sorting through the aftermath of the accident is also difficult because any mistake you make can prove costly. Navigate that situation better by following the tips detailed below.
Check for Injuries
Rear-ending a car accidentally can lead to serious injuries. Consider yourself lucky if you walk away from the incident with only scratches. In some cases, people end up breaking bones or sustaining head injuries following a vehicular collision. Before you do anything else, you should check yourself for injuries. Check on your passengers as well and see if any of them need medical attention.
Call for Medical Assistance
If someone is hurt inside your vehicle, the first call you should make following the crash is to 911. Request medical assistance right away. You should also avoid moving the injured person because doing so could aggravate their injury.
Report the Accident to Law Enforcement
Texas law requires drivers to report any accident that causes injury to law enforcement. As the driver of one of the vehicles, you must make that report if one of the cars is too damaged to drive safely. You should not count on the other party to fulfill this obligation, so go ahead and do it yourself. Reach out to the local police department or the sheriff’s office to report the incident.
Gather Evidence at the Scene of the Accident
Are you feeling well enough to walk around? If so, you can take this opportunity to collect some evidence. Even if the other driver was the one that brake checked you, chances are they will deny that fact when they face the authorities. They will likely try to blame you for tailgating and say that your poor driving led to the accident.
Collect as much evidence as you can so you can prove what happened before the crash. Take pictures of the accident site and the vehicles involved. You can also speak to people nearby as they can provide valuable witness testimony.
Speak to the Other Driver
Speaking to the driver of the car who brake checked you is necessary. Since you probably want compensation for what happened, you will need to talk to them to get their contact details and insurance information.
During this conversation, you need to be wary of what you say. Remember that Texas follows the modified comparative fault rule when determining damages in car accident cases. Because of that rule, the compensation you receive may reduce by the percentage of blame you bear for the accident.
The other driver may attempt to get you to share blame to lighten their financial responsibility. They could even go as far as to claim that you are mostly to blame for what happened. If your share of the blame for the accident is greater than 50%, you will not receive any kind of compensation.
Try to keep this conversation as short as possible. Once you have the information you need, you do not need to say anything else to the other driver. Simply tell them that you have reported the accident to law enforcement and that officers should be arriving shortly.
Share Information with Law Enforcement
With law enforcement now at the scene of the accident, you can give them the information you gathered. You can also take this opportunity to share your version of the events as the other driver will likely do that as well. Do not forget to ask the officers about their contact information. You will likely need to get a hold of them at some point, so make sure you can do so easily.
Go to a Doctor
Paying a visit to the doctor is a must if you were recently involved in a car accident. Get yourself checked out so you can be certain that you received no unseen injuries during the accident. Do not assume that everything is okay because you are feeling fine right now. Some injuries take some time to make their presence felt, so be proactive in this instance.
Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
Are you planning to sue the driver who brake checked you? If so, you will need the services of a car accident lawyer. Hire one and work closely with them so you can win this case.
The Valuable Assistance Provided by Your Car Accident Lawyer
Lawyers can help you in a variety of ways if you are planning to sue the person who caused your brake checking accident. The examples below highlight how they can help.
Your Lawyer Can Help You File Your Lawsuit Faster
Time is of the essence when it comes to personal injury lawsuits. You want to act as quickly as possible, so the quality of the evidence does not deteriorate.
Furthermore, acting quickly is important because you do not want to brush up next to the statute of limitations. Two years is the statute of limitations for car accident cases. That may seem like a lot of time, but it may prove insufficient if you are not working with a lawyer.
Your Lawyer Can Prove That You Bear no Blame for the Accident
Expect the other side to spend a lot of time casting blame on you. It is probably the only thing they can do if they want to avoid handing you a big payout. Fighting back against their false claims can be difficult if you are doing it by yourself. Enlist the help of an attorney so they can combat those false claims and bring the truth to light.
Your Lawyer Can Buy You Time
Hopefully, you emerged from the accident without sustaining any major injuries. Sadly, things do not always work out that way. You could end up with a concussion or a severely injured leg due to the impact of the crash. For now, your focus should fully be on recovery. Continue resting and let your lawyer handle the lawsuit for you.
Brake checking is illegal in Texas. If someone brake checks you, remember to report them to the authorities. Taking legal action is also necessary if their brake checking leads to an accident.
Contact us at Barrus Injury Lawyers if you are looking to sue an irresponsible driver. We are always ready to help so do not hesitate to give us a call.