Texas laws do not expressly state every unsafe practice a driver can perform. So, it is plausible to wonder if brake checking is illegal. According to the Texas Transportation Code (545.401), a driver commits an offense when operating an automobile knowingly or willfully without acknowledging the safety of others, resulting in a misdemeanor offense and the following penalties:
- Fines not exceeding $200
- A jail sentence not exceeding 30 days
- Both jail time and a fine
Most often, drivers who perform these acts do so out of aggression toward a driver they feel is following too closely. There are various reasons a driver may tailgate.
What Is Brake Checking and Its Dangers
Brake checking is the practice of purposefully slamming on brakes without warning, primarily affecting the driver following behind. Whether performed as a joke or an act of aggression, this behavior significantly increases the potential of an auto accident. Most drivers remain situationally aware to notice dangers involving the cars in front of them, but with a brake check, there is nothing there to alert them to a threat, which would result in slowing down.
When there is no sufficient brake light warning that a vehicle ahead of you is slowing, a car traveling behind a driver who brake checks has the potential to:
- Rear-end the vehicle of the driver performing the brake check
- Sideswipe a driver in lanes to the left or right by trying to avoid a rear-end collision
- Leave the roadway to avoid a collision
Not only do brake checks have the potential to injure other drivers, but the driver performing a brake check can suffer significant injury. Slamming on brakes creates an adverse chain reaction, often leading to costly property damage and personal injury. Yet, is this unsafe driving practice illegal in Texas?
Following Distance on Texas Highways
Texas statutes address the appropriate following distance recommended to prevent tailgating and related accidents. The law states a driver should ensure a continual clear distance between their car and the car in front of it by considering specific factors to allow for safely stopping and preventing a collision with the car in front, such as:
- The speed of the surrounding vehicles
- Roadway conditions
Texas law assigns proportionate responsibility in a car crash, meaning a driver cannot recover damages when found to be greater than 50% at fault. The driver who is following too closely may also be assigned a percentage of fault. However, if they are 50% or less responsible for a driving accident, they can seek damages resulting from the incident.
The driver seeking damages will then have their damage award reduced by their percentage of fault in the car accident. For example, if they are found 20% at fault, their compensation will be 20% less than their claim award, settlement, or verdict.
Working with a Lubbock personal injury attorney can reduce your chance of being disproportionately blamed for the wreck.
Steps to Take After a Brake Check Accident in Texas
The first step after any car accident in Texas is to seek medical attention. These accidents often create an adrenaline rush that can leave drivers unaware of their injuries. If you do not require immediate care, follow these guidelines:
- Keep emotions under control to prevent additional altercations.
- Never apologize or admit to causing or contributing to the incident.
- Ask for the contact information of any witnesses to the accident.
- Exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver or allow a responding officer to collect the information safely.
- Notify the responding officer of how the brake-checking incident contributed to the crash.
- Take pictures at the accident scene and include photos of skid marks or any other signs that could indicate how the collision occurred.
Recovering compensation for an auto accident resulting from a brake check can be challenging. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will operate under the assumption that you or another motorist is at fault. If you try to fight the other side without the guidance of a qualified auto accident lawyer, it could result in no compensation be awarded to you and you paying for your own and potentially others’ damages despite the other driver’s negligence.
The insurance company will argue their policyholder’s role in an accident was minimal, regardless of that driver’s actions. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the amount they must pay because of their client’s negligence. Liggett Law Group will diligently work to uncover the facts about the at-fault motorist’s actions contributing to a brake check accident with in-depth research.
Our legal team will seek to gather substantial documentation by:
- Securing traffic cameras or security footage recording negligent acts
- Speak with witnesses to gather an unbiased perspective of the accident
- Review a driver’s records for other incidents of car wrecks resulting in the same damages or for charges and convictions that demonstrate aggressive driving behavior
- Work with expert witnesses
- Review law enforcement reports for accuracy
- Compile the documentation to prove which driver holds more responsibility in the accident and how acts of negligence contributed to the injuries sustained by our client
Liggett Law Group is familiar with the tactics and arguments insurance representatives employ to protect their own interests. Fair compensation should be the ultimate goal, and our role is to advocate for our clients when negligence leads to a Texas car accident.
Without a dedicated team fighting for your rights, the insurance company may succeed at withholding the compensation you deserve.
What to Do if You Are Blamed for a Texas Brake Check Accident
Speaking with a Lubbock car accident attorney immediately following a vehicle collision can change the course of action insurance companies take. The more that time passes after a crash, the more likely valuable documentation will be lost, erased, or become undiscoverable. When the evidence indicates that fault in an accident is not cut and dry, the dedication and experience of Liggett Law Group may help you recover compensation when it seems impossible.
Failing to allow an experienced personal injury team to take action can result in a significant cost to you for the damages to your vehicle, those of other drivers involved in the accident, and any medical expenses for treatment. Having a personal injury lawyer act on your behalf when negotiating with an insurance company is vital.
Any statement given to an insurance adjuster can be used to reflect negatively on your actions in the incident. Our car accident attorneys will advise you on what to say and when to remain silent to strengthen your case. We manage all communications on your behalf to give your claim the best chance at success.
Contact Ted Liggett at Liggett Law Group and schedule a free consultation if you have experienced damages from a Texas brake check accident. Experience representing clients who suffer Texas car accident injuries is never more significant. The integrity we display in every case provides superior advocacy that produces results.