Are you Responsible for a Virginia Brake-Check Accident?

Apr 5, 2024 | Blog

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where another driver is tailgating you, and you decide to tap on your brakes to teach them a lesson? While this may seem like a reasonable response, it’s important to understand the legal implications of such actions. In Virginia, proving fault in a rear-end collision can be challenging, especially if you engage in certain behaviors that could be considered contributory negligence. Here is more about the concept of contributory negligence and its impact on recovering damages in a brake-check accident.

Understanding Liability in Rear-End Collisions

In Virginia, the law follows a contributory negligence system, which means that if you are found even partially at fault for an accident, you may be barred from recovering any damages from the other party involved. This legal principle can have significant consequences, particularly in cases where a driver intentionally taps their brakes to retaliate against a tailgater.

What Is Brake Checking?

Brake checking occurs when a driver in the car in front of you slams on their brakes without warning or cause. This is not because the driver is stopping to avoid a collision ahead; it is an intentional act, usually associated with road rage. Drivers may do this when the car behind them is following too close. 

Brake checking can lead to a few different accidents:

  • You are too close to brake in time and hit the car that brake-checked you.
  • You swerve to avoid hitting them, which may cause another accident.

Car accident victims in rear-end collisions that happen due to brake checks can pursue legal action. If this sounds like your car accident case, you may be served by contacting an attorney. 

Who Is Liable in a Brake-Checking Accident?

Rear-end accidents are one of the most common types of car accidents. A lot of drivers assume that liability in rear-end accidents is set in stone: the driver behind the rear car is at fault. However, this isn’t always the case, especially if you can prove the other driver intentionally brake-checked you. You might be able to prove this from:

  • A police report
  • A dashboard camera
  • Eyewitnesses

What to Do After a Brake-Check Accident

Any kind of car accident is scary, but accidents  involving road rage are particularly frightening. If you’re in a brake-check accident, stay calm. Assess the danger of the situation. Is the other driver stepping out of their car? Do they seem angry? 

Calmly exchange information with the other driver, and do not escalate the situation or admit fault. You should also take pictures of the accident scene, including any property damage. Call the police to make a crash report that you can use later for evidence. 

Afterward, seek medical attention, even if you don’t believe you’re injured. At the very least, the doctor can confirm you’re okay. If you do have injuries, you’ll have a medical record of them you can use for evidence.

The Role of Contributory Negligence in Brake-Check Accidents

If you are being tailgated by another driver, and in frustration, you decide to tap on your brakes to teach them a lesson – then, if the tailgater then collides with the back of your vehicle, you may find yourself facing contributory negligence.

Contributory negligence refers to any action or behavior on the part of the injured party that contributes to the accident or exacerbates the damages. In this case, intentionally tapping your brakes to provoke the tailgater could be seen as a reckless action that contributed to the collision. As a result, you may be deemed partially at fault for the accident, making it difficult to recover damages from the other party.

Proving Fault in Virginia

To recover damages in a rear-end collision in Virginia, you must establish that the other party is 100% at fault. Virginia is one of the few contributory negligence states in the country. This burden of proof can be challenging, especially when contributory negligence is involved. If you engage in any behavior that could be seen as contributing to the accident, such as brake checking, it may weaken your case and hinder your ability to recover compensation.

Seeking Legal Assistance

If you have been involved in a brake-check accident or any other type of collision in Virginia, where you were injured and the other party was at-fault, seek legal advice from an experienced personal injury attorney. They can help you navigate the complexities of the contributory negligence system and determine the best course of action for your case.

Contact Geoff McDonald & Associates for a Complimentary Consultation Today

While it may be tempting to retaliate against a tailgater by tapping on your brakes, it’s important to understand the potential legal consequences of such actions. In Virginia, the contributory negligence system can make it challenging to recover damages if you engage in behavior that is deemed reckless or contributes to the accident. To protect your rights and ensure a fair outcome, it is advisable to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can guide you through the legal process.

When seeking compensation for a car accident, you may benefit by bringing in an experienced Virginia car accident attorney. With 20 years of experience, Geoff McDonald & Associates, P.C., is ready to take on your case. 

Contact us at 804-944-8439 for a free consultation today.

Geoff McDonald and Associates: 804-888-8888.


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