Who Is at Fault If Someone Brake Checks You in Indiana?

A car accident in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Were you involved in a rear-end collision after another driver decided to brake check you in Indiana? If so, you may be worried about whether you could be held responsible for the crash. People almost always assume the rear driver is responsible for a rear-end accident, but what if the collision only occurred because of an aggressive brake check?

Brake checking is both irresponsible and dangerous. Drivers who brake check others can be partially or fully at fault for this reckless maneuver. However, even when drivers who brake check others might seem at fault, proving their liability can be incredibly challenging. Unless you can provide evidence to demonstrate that the other driver brake checked you and caused the crash, you won’t be able to hold them responsible.

It is vital to work with a trusted attorney if you have been involved in a brake check accident in Indiana. At Truitt Law Offices, our dedicated personal injury lawyers have been fighting for Indiana accident victims for more than 40 years. We know just how catastrophic brake check accidents can be. Our team is here to help you hold aggressive drivers accountable.

Contact us today to discuss the details of your Indiana brake check accident with an attentive member of our team. We provide free initial consultations and do not charge any legal fees unless we win money for you.

What Is Brake Checking?

Brake checking occurs when a motorist intentionally slams on their brakes to startle, irritate, or intimidate the driver behind them. The driver on the receiving end of a brake check is typically forced to brake suddenly or swerve into a neighboring lane to avoid causing a rear-end collision.

In many cases, the rear driver does not have enough time or distance to maneuver and collides with the vehicle ahead of them. Traffic behind the brake check victim might also be unable to stop in time. That can lead to frustrating scenarios where both parties claim they were wronged and dispute who is actually at fault.

Here are the top reasons drivers brake check other drivers:

  • Road rage – Aggressive drivers will often use brake checking to irritate or frustrate others on the road. When experiencing road rage, an aggressive driver might decide to brake check the vehicle behind them to deter tailgating or show displeasure with another act. Some aggressive drivers might even race in front of others and stomp on their brakes to retaliate for perceived slights.
  • Reckless “fun” – Reckless drivers sometimes brake check other vehicles driven by friends or family members in the name of “fun” or “harmless” irritation. Unfortunately, this dangerous maneuver can still lead to devastating crashes, even when no malice is intended.
  • Insurance fraud – In some cases, drivers engage in brake checking to cause car accidents on purpose. They hope that they can blame the rear driver and collect compensation from a fraudulent insurance settlement.

 Is Aggressive Brake Checking Illegal?

Yes. Brake checking is an illegal driving practice here in Indiana. Indiana is one of just 11 states with specific laws against aggressive driving.

Under § 9-21-8-55 of the Indiana legal code, a driver commits an aggressive driving offense if they “knowingly or intentionally” engage in aggressive driving behaviors to “harass or intimidate” someone in another vehicle. Aggressive driving violations also occur when a driver does at least three of the following while driving:

  • Follows too closely
  • Operates their vehicle “unsafely”
  • Passes others on the right by driving off of the roadway
  • Slows down or stops unsafely
  • Sounds their horn unnecessarily
  • Fails to yield the right of way
  • Drives at an “unsafe” speed
  • Repeatedly flashes their headlights

Although brake checking is not explicitly mentioned in the text of the law, stopping or slowing unsafely is legally defined as a type of aggressive driving maneuver. When combined with other common aggressive behaviors, brake checking could lead to aggressive driving charges in Indiana.

Aggressive driving is typically prosecuted as a Class A misdemeanor in Indiana traffic courts, punishable by $5,000 in fines and up to one year in jail. If someone is convicted of aggressive driving in a highway work zone, they could even be charged with a felony.

Drivers involved in a rear end collision

Is It Always My Fault If I Rear-Ended Someone?

Some people assume that the driver in the rear is automatically at fault when they crash into a vehicle in front of them. However, the truth is that the driver of either could be at fault and, in some cases, another party may share responsibility.

If an aggressive driver intentionally cut you off and brake-checked you, they would likely be at least partially at fault. In some cases, you would bear at least some responsibility for failing to maintain a safe following distance or stop your vehicle in time. However, with strong enough evidence, it might be possible to demonstrate you had no way to avoid the crash.

A third party might also be partially at fault for the accident. For example, if your brakes didn’t work because a manufacturing defect caused them to fail, the negligent manufacturer of the brakes may bear responsibility. A knowledgeable attorney can help you determine who was at fault in an Indiana brake check accident and seek compensation from all possible sources.

How Can You Prove the Other Driver Brake Checked You?

Proving that the other driver brake checked you is difficult, but not impossible. With the help of a trusted car accident lawyer, you can gather and present evidence to support your claim, such as:

  • Video of the crash from a dash cam or traffic camera
  • Recording of the other driver admitting fault for the brake check
  • Statements from witnesses who saw the collision occur
  • Testimony from expert witnesses such as accident reconstruction specialists

 Contact a Car Accident Attorney in Indiana Today

Brake checking is a hazardous and negligent practice. While drivers might employ the tactic with the intent of irritating or sending a signal to another driver, their actions could ultimately cause a severe injury or fatal wreck. If an aggressive driver brake-checked you and caused you harm, turn to the Indiana car accident attorneys of Truitt Law Offices right away for help.

Contact us today to learn more about your legal options in a free initial case review.

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About the Author

Phil Truitt joined Truitt Law Offices in 2018 after he earned his J.D. from Ohio Northern University Ohio Northern Pettit College of Law. However, his association with the law firm dates all the way back to childhood. His father, Richard, established the firm over 40 years ago. Growing up, Phil…