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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

Is Brake Checking Illegal in Tennessee? What to Know

Rear-end collisions can happen for many reasons, but the most common is brake checking. It's important to know what it is, why these brake-checking accidents happen, and learn how to handle the situation.

After being a victim of brake checking, people often wonder if it's an illegal act and what damages they could get. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys have handled such cases before and it's important to work with a reputable car accident lawyer who understands the gravity of the situation. Let's learn more about these types of cases. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also answer questions such as Are u turns illegal in Tennessee?

What's Brake Checking?

What's Brake Checking?

Brake checking happens when the driver slams on their brakes quickly with another driver at the rear. Therefore, the other driver must brake sharply to hopefully avoid a crash.

Typically, brake checking is considered an aggressive driving behavior. Sometimes, people do it for fun, especially when they already know the person behind them, such as a friend or family member. Other times, they wish to shock the driver or brake check a tailgating driver.

People can also brake check to make the other driver avoid an accident or slow down themselves. Overall, brake checking is considered reckless driving and a road rage incident.

Typically, brake testing is the term used in motorsports, but it's often applied to the road. This is when the driver in front unnecessarily and deliberately brakes hard to force the rear driver from taking evasive actions to avoid hitting them. It can often be used when someone wants to commit insurance fraud.

In many cases, the rear driver gets blamed for the rear-end collision. They might have been driving close to the front vehicle and are called a tailgater. However, it's a dangerous situation and can lead to personal injury and property damage.

Injuries could include:

  • Brain injuries

  • Soft tissue damage

  • Back or spinal injuries

  • Whiplash

Is It Illegal to Brake Check? Is It Considered Aggressive Driving?

In Tennessee, brake checking is an illegal action. It's considered a form of negligent driving and is often called road rage. Likewise, it increases the chance of getting hit by the rear driver.

The NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) claims that rear-end car accidents account for 29 percent of all car accidents, so they're the most common.

It's illegal to brake-check tailgaters. Though tailgating is unlawful and annoying, it's wrong to brake-check another driver. If there's a tailgater, it's wise to pull over, maintain the current speed, and switch lanes when it's safe to do so.

Likewise, if one has brake-checked a tailgater, they could be held responsible in a court of law if an accident happens. Since Tennessee is a modified comparative negligence state, they would be allowed to sue for damages, but their percentage of fault would be removed from the settlement amount.

Proving the Other Driver Brake-Checked

It's possible to prove a car accident caused by brake checking through witness statements and a dash cam. However, it's often hard to show that the other driver brake checked the other.

Generally, a dash cam is the best way to prove a person's innocence during a rear-end accident. It's wise to purchase one if possible because video footage is evidence of the driver brake-checking the other and can show fault. Likewise, it's possible to ask for personal home camera surveillance video evidence to see if they recorded the incident.

Though videos are the best source of evidence, witness statements are also crucial. A passenger could be helpful, or the lawyer might try to find people who saw the incident occur.

Drivers often get angry after rear-end accidents. Therefore, it's wise to record them if possible to get a guilty admission to win the case.

Brake checks are often done on purpose, and it doesn't matter what the circumstances are. Therefore, one person has to be the at-fault driver.

Brake Checking Accident Cases

It's difficult to prove who is at fault for a brake check accident, but it doesn't always have to be the rear driver's fault. In fact, either driver could be the liable one, especially if they used an aggressive driving tactic or were careless.

For example, the rear driver might suffer severe injuries after the car crash and could sue the brake checker (front driver) for any damages.

How to Set Up a Personal Injury Case for Brake Checking

Law enforcement should check the factors relating to the brake-checking car accident claim. These can include:

  • Whether it was an intentional act

  • If the brake check led to severe injuries, property damage, or fear for the other driver

  • If the braking was a threat to another driver

Typically, insurance companies hope to reject liability for this type of personal injury case, citing exclusion because the conduct was intentional.

It's crucial to have an experienced auto accident attorney in Nashville available to help with a personal injury lawsuit involving brake checkers. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can assist.

What to Do After the Brake Checking Accident

What to Do After the Brake Checking Accident

After getting into a brake check accident, it's important to follow these steps:

  • Stay Calm - Though the victim might be faced with a brake-checking driver, they should avoid disputes at all costs.

  • Contact Law Enforcement - It's wise to call 911 and report the accident. If there are injuries to any parties, request an ambulance on the scene.

  • Gather Pertinent Information - Exchange insurance and contact information with the other drivers. Consider taking pictures of the crash and gathering witness contact info, too.

  • Get Medical Help - Even if there's no serious injury, it's wise to get checked out by a medical provider at the hospital. This will ensure evidence through the medical records.

  • Hire an Experienced Car Accident Attorney - The personal injury attorney will help the victim gather evidence for the claim, such as asking for police reports and getting bills for medical expenses. They can also answer questions like Is texting and driving illegal in Tennessee?

Contact a Lawyer from Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys

Brake checking is illegal, and the driver at the rear isn't always at fault. After getting injured during a brake check accident, it's best to contact an experienced car accident lawyer.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys offers a free consultation to victims who believe they might have a case after such an incident.


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