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Is Brake Checking Illegal in Washington State?

Colburn Law

As drivers, we are responsibly for operating our own vehicles safely and anticipating hazards on the road. However, not all drivers engage in safe driving practices or focus on their own behavior while on the road. Instead, they choose to engage in dangerous driving practices such as brake checking.

Brake checking, an action that occurs when a driver in front of you deliberately brakes hard to test your focus, is not technically illegal in Washington. However, a driver who brake checks could be liable for an accident.

Why Do People Brake Check?

Rear-end accidents and fender-benders are very common accidents throughout the United States, and they can happen for a number of different reasons. Usually, the person who is driving behind the other vehicle is following too closely and is unable to react in time to a sudden stop. However, not all incidents of rear-end accidents are entirely accidents.

Brake checking occurs when the vehicle in front of you brakes quickly and suddenly in response to you following too close behind the driver. The purpose of brake checking is to scare you off if you are following too closely, or to signal that you need to back up.

While you may be following at a close distance, the driver ultimately causes the accident if he or she brake checks. If he or she did not brake check, the car accident may not have occurred in the first place – and you could pursue compensation for your injuries.

Brake Checking Laws in Washington

While brake checking is a dangerous driving practice and can lead to many accidents, it is not illegal in Washington state. However, you could hold the driver liable for your injuries through a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim.

The other driver may argue that you were following too closely and that you caused the accident. However, if you can prove that an incident of brake checking happened, you could claim that the other driver was actually at-fault.

Because both of you may have engaged in dangerous driving behaviors, the Washington civil court is most likely going to apply a comparative negligence rule to your claim. Comparative negligence systems reduce the amount of compensation you receive by your percentage of fault.

For instance, say that you are following another driver at too close of a range and he or she suddenly brakes. You prove that he or she brake checked thanks to surveillance footage, but the court still assigns you 30% of the blame for driving too closely. The court grants you a settlement of $20,000, but you only receive $14,000 because of your 30% share of the fault.

How to Prove Brake Checking in Washington State

If you are in an accident with a driver who was brake checking, you could prove that he or she engaged in dangerous behavior. However, you will need a Seattle car accident attorney on your side to help prove your claim. An attorney can provide numerous benefits to your case, including the following.

  • Your attorney will have access to a wealth of resources to help your claim – from investigative resources to experts who can provide testimony on your behalf.
  • Your attorney will know how to deeply and comprehensively investigate your claim. He or she will review security footage, medical records, witness reports, and more to build a compelling case on your behalf.
  • Your attorney will be familiar with Washington car accident laws and legal processes. He or she can help guide you through the claims process so that you can focus on recovery, not paperwork.

If a driver who brake checks you and you are in a collision due to this behavior, he or she could be liable for your injuries and losses. Brake checking is also a form of aggressive driving, allowing you to build a stronger case against the at-fault driver. Contact a Bellevue car accident attorney as soon as possible following your accident to discuss the possible liability issues in your claim.