Car Accidents Caused by Brake Checking in Florida
June 16, 2023 | Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers | Car Accident
Brake checking is a dangerous action that can escalate an already dangerous situation. This behavior can cause car accidents that otherwise might have been avoided. And it exposes the brake checker to liability for injuries to the other vehicle’s occupants.
Brake checking creates the risk of a rear-end collision. This type of collision can produce whiplash injuries to the neck and back. It can also cause concussions as the vehicle occupants whip back and forth under the force of the crash.
What Is Brake Checking?
Brake checking has a range of definitions. Broadly, brake checking happens when someone brakes hard to check their own brakes. This action poses a risk to other drivers who might not expect a driver to stop suddenly.
Brake checking also has a narrower definition. In this definition, brake checking occurs in response to another driver’s actions.
Tailgating happens when the driver of a trailing vehicle follows a leading vehicle at an unsafe following distance. This behavior can upset the driver of the leading vehicle. In response, they slam on their brakes.
In this definition, “brake checking” refers to a driver checking another driver’s brakes. In other words, when the driver of the leading vehicle slams on their brakes, the driver of the trailing vehicle must also slam on their brakes to avoid a collision. If the driver of the trailing vehicle is too close or reacts too slowly, they will crash into the other car.
Rear-End Collisions from Brake Checking
Rear-end crashes happen when one vehicle plows into the rear of another vehicle.
This type of crash can happen when:
- The leading vehicle is stopped, and the trailing vehicle is moving forward
- The leading and trailing vehicles are moving forward
Accident reports typically do not classify accidents as rear-end crashes when the leading vehicle backs into the trailing vehicle.
A rear-end collision can happen for many reasons, including:
Brake checking is not a common cause of rear-end collisions simply because most drivers do not brake check. This behavior is very dangerous and creates a high collision risk.
When a leading driver brake checks a trailing driver, the trailing vehicle is already too close to the leading vehicle due to the trailing driver’s tailgating. When the leading driver slams on their brakes, the driver of the trailing vehicle must react quickly. But even if the driver reacts instantaneously, the gap might be too small to avoid a collision.
Reaction distance is the distance you cover during the time your brain perceives a threat and instructs your foot to apply the brakes. Your reaction time is fairly constant. But your car will cover a greater distance during this reaction time as your speed increases.
For example, the average driver has a one-and-a-half-second reaction time. An increase in speed of just 15 miles per hour will add 33 feet to their reaction distance.
Braking distance is the distance your vehicle covers after you apply the brakes to come to a stop. Braking distance varies from vehicle to vehicle based on weight, braking force, and even tire size. Most importantly, the braking distance increases with speed. At a modest 30 miles per hour, vehicles require an average of 45 feet to stop.
If the gap between two vehicles is less than the total stopping distance, the trailing vehicle will slam into the back of the leading vehicle when it stops.
Common Rear-End Collision Injuries
During a rear-end crash, occupants of the leading vehicle will first whip backward into their seats and headrests. The driver’s natural response will be to slam on the brakes. When this happens, the occupants of the leading vehicle whip forward into their seat belts. If they are unbelted, they will hit the seats, dashboard, or steering wheel.
Occupants of the trailing vehicle will experience the same forces but in reverse. They will whip forward first, then whip back into their seats.
The main difference between the two vehicles is that the airbags will not deploy in the leading vehicle. The airbag sensors usually only trigger the airbags in response to a frontal collision. As a result, the airbags will only deploy in the trailing vehicle since it will experience a frontal collision.
Rear-end collisions are very common. According to the National Safety Council, about 42% of crashes involve rear-end collisions. But these crashes only cause 18% of deaths and 38% of injuries. Thus, you will probably not suffer a fatal injury from a brake-checking crash.
But you could still suffer serious injuries such as:
Whiplash is a collection of neck and back injuries resulting from whipping back and forth in a collision.
Neck strain happens when muscles and tendons get hyperextended. Tears in the tissue cause pain, swelling, weakness, and stiffness.
Neck sprains happen when you hyperextend the ligaments holding the spine together. These injuries cause spine pain, inflammation, and limited range of motion.
When your head moves back and forth violently, the compression of your spine can cause herniated discs. A herniated disc can press on nearby nerves and produce radiating pain, swelling, and numbness in your fingers.
A concussion happens when your brain gets jostled in your skull due to the whipping motion. The brain swells, resulting in confusion, amnesia, headache, and clumsiness.
As your body whips back and forth during the collision, you can break bones in your face, hands, and arms. With enough force, you may even fracture a vertebra in your spine. Fractured vertebrae can cause paralysis if bone fragments sever the spinal cord.
Determining Liability for Brake Checking Accidents
Florida uses comparative fault to allocate liability after a crash caused by multiple people. This means that an insurance adjuster or jury will assign a percentage of blame to each party. The percentage will determine the damages that the at-fault party will pay.
For example, after a brake-checking accident, the brake checker might get 70% of the blame, and the tailgater might get 30%. This means the brake checker cannot recover compensation for their injuries and will pay 70% of the tailgater’s losses.
Contact a Clearwater Car Accident Attorney If You Were Hurt in a Collision Caused By Brake Checking
If you get injured in a brake-checking accident, you should contact a Clearwater car accident attorney to discuss whether the other driver may bear liability for your losses.
For more information, please contact Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer in Clearwater today. We have five convenient locations in Florida, including Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, and Lakeland.
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