Battle Born Injury Lawyers | April 19, 2023 | Car Accidents
Anyone who has driven in Las Vegas knows that other drivers follow dangerously closely. Heavy traffic combined with impatience and aggressive drivers provides a recipe for tailgating. And private individuals are not the only ones doing it. You will see taxi drivers, rideshare drivers, and even shuttle bus drivers riding other vehicles’ tails.
The right response to tailgating is to move aside and allow the tailgater to pass. But many drivers act as if two wrongs will make a right. Instead of moving aside, they escalate the encounter by brake-checking the tailgater. Sometimes this works. But occasionally, the cars collide, and each driver points to the other as the cause.
What Is Brake Checking?
A broad definition of brake checking would include any hard braking event. Insurance companies have found that hard braking can predict a driver’s crash risk.
Drivers in Las Vegas experience 34% more hard braking events than the national average, according to Allstate’s America’s Best Drivers report in 2019. As a result, the report ranks Las Vegas 129th out of 200 cities for the quality of its drivers. In other words, 128 surveyed cities had safer drivers than Las Vegas.
But most people mean something much narrower when they use the term “brake checking.” The narrower definition of brake checking describes it as a response to tailgating. When used this way, a tailgated driver slams on their brakes to “check the brakes” of the tailgater.
Effects of Brake Checking
If the tailgater has quick reflexes and properly operating brakes, they may avoid a crash.
But brake checking can also cause a car accident if the following factors are present:
- Too small of a gap between the vehicles
- Slow reaction time
- Bad brakes
Brake checking and tailgating lead to rear-end crashes. In this type of crash, the tailgater runs into the back of the brake checker’s car. The collision causes the occupants of the tailgater’s car to bend forward. They hit their seat belts and may suffer chest injuries. Their heads continue forward, stretching and injuring their necks.
The airbags should deploy in the tailgater’s car and should prevent serious head trauma. But the occupants could still suffer airbag injuries, such as facial fractures.
In the brake-checker’s vehicle, the occupants get pushed back into their seats before rebounding into their seat belts when the vehicle stops. They may also suffer neck, back, and chest injuries. Since the brake checker’s vehicle was hit from the rear, the vehicle’s airbags will probably not deploy, leading to serious injuries.
Consequences of Causing an Accident by Brake Checking in Nevada
Brake checking could lead to civil and criminal liability exposure for a driver.
Nevada outlaws tailgating. Drivers violate this law when they follow too closely based on the vehicles’ speeds, the traffic congestion, and the road surface conditions.
Nevada does not have a law specifically outlawing brake checks. But it does have criminal statutes against aggressive driving and reckless driving. Brake checking could fall under either of those laws.
Aggressive driving is the legal term for road rage.
Under Nevada’s statute, aggressive driving happens when a driver commits at least three aggressive actions, including:
- Running a red light
- Passing on the right by driving on the shoulder or sidewalk
- Driving between lanes or passing unsafely
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Creating an immediate hazard to other road users
Brake checking could fall under the last element and expose a driver to an aggressive driving charge. Drivers could receive up to six months in jail for an aggressive driving conviction.
Reckless driving happens when someone drives with willful and wanton disregard for the safety of other road users. Brake checking is different from tailgating. A tailgater can argue they were simply careless or negligent in tailgating. But someone who brake checks in response to tailgating acts deliberately and intentionally.
As a result, brake checking could exhibit “willful and wanton disregard” for safety. More importantly, reckless driving does not require multiple actions. A single act of brake checking could expose a driver to reckless driving charges. Reckless driving carries a potential sentence of up to six months in jail.
The liability for most rear-end collisions falls on the rear driver. That driver has the responsibility to follow at a safe distance. They bear liability for crashes they cause when they tailgate.
But this scenario gets turned on its head when the front driver causes the crash. When a driver brake checks a tailgater, they do something unreasonably dangerous. This action breaches the duty to drive with reasonable care. As a result, the driver could bear some or all of the liability for the crash.
Nevada uses modified comparative fault when multiple people contribute to an accident. If two people contribute to the cause of an accident, the claims adjuster or jury will assign each one a share of the fault. If a claimant’s percentage of fault exceeds 50%, they’re barred from recovering a monetary award from the other party.
For example, a jury could find a brake checker 70% at fault for an accident and a tailgater 30% at fault for the accident.
This allocation determines how much compensation a plaintiff can recover. In the example, the brake checker cannot receive compensation because they bore a majority of the fault. They must pay 70% of the tailgater’s damages because they were assigned 70% of the blame.
Getting Personal Injury Compensation After a Brake-Checking Accident in Nevada
Brake checking is dangerous. It can expose the brake checker and other road users to serious injuries to their necks, backs, and heads. Brake checking could also land the brake checker in jail for up to six months for aggravated or reckless driving.
Most importantly, the brake checker could bear liability for the losses sustained by any accident victims. Brake checking constitutes negligent or even intentional behavior and could cause permanent disabilities to the brain and spine. As a result, a court could reasonably impose liability on the brake checker.
Contact the Las Vegas Car Accident Attorneys at Battle Born Injury Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident in Las Vegas and you need legal assistance, contact our car accident attorneys at Battle Born Injury Lawyers and schedule a free consultation with our legal team.