Yes, brake checking is illegal in Indiana. That’s because it is an intentional act designed to either scare the driver behind you or cause them to wreck. By doing so, the action puts everyone on the road near you at risk. The driver behind you might need to swerve to avoid a collision because they were following you too closely.
Instead of brake-checking a driver who is tailgating you, a smarter option would be to yield to these drivers by getting into another lane to allow them to pass when possible. If there is only one lane of traffic, you might consider pulling off into a parking lot to allow the reckless driver that is tailgating you to pass.
Tailgating and brake-checking bring up questions of legality if an accident does occur. Here’s how your deliberate driving actions–or those of another driver–could impact a car accident case in Indiana.
What You Need to Know About Indiana Brake Checking Accidents
Drivers think that brake checking is a way to make other drivers pay for their errors in tailgating them. And while most rear-end collisions are considered the fault of the other driver, you cannot guarantee that law enforcement will see it that way.
Law enforcement will evaluate the accident scene to decide who is responsible for the accident. As they take a look at the surroundings, they might find tire marks or other signs that you applied the brakes hard without a reason for doing so. Without a clear obstacle or hazard in the roadway, law enforcement might deem that you were braking without cause, and therefore were at least partially at fault for the accident.
About Comparative Negligence
Indiana uses a modified comparative negligence rule, which states that each driver can be partially at fault for an accident and has to bear the financial burden for that percent of the accident.
And if you’re found to be partially at fault for the accident, you could face increases to your insurance premiums in addition to moving violations for your part in the accident.
The consequences of brake checking can be exacerbated if law enforcement finds you guilty of reckless driving.
When Brake Checking Turns Into a Reckless Driving Charge
Depending on the circumstances, if law enforcement finds that you braked hard without a need to do so, you could also face reckless driving charges.
Indiana defines reckless driving as operating a vehicle with disregard for the safety of other motorists and their property. Reckless driving can come in many forms from excessive speed to swerving in and out of lanes of traffic.
If you’re found guilty of reckless driving, you’ll end up with a class B misdemeanor on your record. And you could face fines up to $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail.
Finding Legal Representation for Brake Checking Cases
Depending on the evidence, you might want to avoid pursuing a lawsuit against the driver that rear-ended you if you knowingly brake-checked that person. The lawsuit could bring to light your misdeeds in the case, which could do more harm than good in helping you recover from the accident.
But knowing when you should pursue a case and when it’s better to avoid the court system is challenging without an expert by your side.
An Indiana car accident attorney can evaluate your case and recommend the best next steps. If you do pursue a lawsuit, your attorney will work hard to minimize the percentage you’re found at fault for the accident to increase your settlement amount and avoid law enforcement digging deeper into possible reckless driving charges.
For a free case evaluation and legal counsel about how to handle a car accident case, contact Stewart & Stewart.