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Car Accident

Car Accidents Caused by Brake Checking in New York

Car Accidents Caused by Brake Checking in New York

Brake checking has many meanings. When a driver brake checks in retaliation for tailgating, it can cause a car accident. More importantly, it can expose the brake-checking driver to liability for any injuries that result from the crash.

Brake checking can cause rear-end collisions, resulting in severe head, neck, and back injuries. Accident victims with these injuries may lose their ability to work or even perform necessary activities like showering or dressing.

What Is Brake Checking?

Brake checking can have an innocuous meaning and a more nefarious meaning. Brake checking may refer to checking your own brakes. When you approach a steep hill, you might brake check before heading down to make sure you can stop at the bottom.

But in a more malicious sense, brake checking refers to checking another driver’s brakes. In this definition, a driver engages in brake checking in response to another driver tailgating them. The brake checker slams on their brakes. If the tailgating driver does not react in time, they will plow into the back of the other vehicle.

Common Injuries Sustained in Brake Checking Accidents

In a rear-end collision, the occupants of the leading vehicle will get pushed back into their seats. Their heads will whip back until they hit their headrests. When an accident results from brake checking, the lead driver has already slammed on their brakes.

After initially whipping back during the collision, the occupants of the leading vehicle will whip forward under the braking force. Their bodies will stop moving when they hit the seat belts, steering wheel, dashboard, or other surface in front of them.

The opposite sequence of events happens in the tailing vehicle. They whip forward as the front of the vehicle hits the lead car. The airbags should deploy in this frontal collision. As a result, the occupants in the front seat of the tailing vehicle can often avoid fatal injuries. But the forward-and-back whipping of their bodies could still injure them.

Some common injuries from rear-end crashes caused by brake checking include:


Whiplash injuries happen when the weight of your head pulls on your neck. As a result, your neck hyperextends, damaging the soft tissues of the neck.

When you hyperextend the muscles and tendons of your neck, you have neck strain.

This injury can cause:

  • Muscle pain and spasms
  • Swelling
  • Weakness
  • Stiffness

Ligaments hold your spine together. When the ligaments in your neck hyperextend, you have a sprained neck.

Symptoms of this injury include:

  • Joint pain and inflammation
  • Limited range of motion
  • Bruises

You may also feel your neck pop during the crash.

Bulging or Herniated Disc

The back-and-forth whipping of your head alternately stretches and compresses your neck. When your neck stretches, the vertebrae and the discs between them separate slightly. When your neck compresses, the vertebrae crush the discs.

Compression forces can deform your discs. If a disc ruptures, the interior gel can herniate through the opening. When a disc weakens, it can flatten and bulge.

Both bulging discs and herniated discs can irritate and inflame nearby nerves, causing symptoms such as:

  • Neck pain
  • Pain that radiates into your shoulders, arms, and hands
  • Weakness in the upper extremities
  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers or hands

Disc injuries do not heal. Doctors can either manage the pain and inflammation or operate to remove the damaged disc.

Fractured Vertebra

With enough force, the whipping of your head can fracture a vertebra, causing a broken neck. The bone fragments could dislocate into your spinal canal and sever your spinal cord. If this happens, you will suffer permanent paralysis and loss of sensation below the level of the injury.


A back-and-forth whipping of your head will shake your brain inside your skull. The pressure of the cerebrospinal fluid that cushions the brain can damage or destroy brain cells. This cellular damage, in turn, causes brain inflammation.

When your brain swells and runs a fever, you can experience many symptoms, including:

  • Confusion
  • Amnesia
  • Headache
  • Tinnitus
  • Blurry vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Clumsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness

Doctors consider a concussion a mild brain injury because the symptoms usually dissipate within two months.

Consequences for Crashes Caused by Brake Checking in New York

When a driver causes a crash by brake checking a tailgater, they can suffer three types of consequences.

First, they can suffer an injury. The driver of the leading car in a rear-end collision can suffer the same types of injuries as the tailgater.

Second, insurers or jurors might blame the brake checker for the accident. No-fault insurance in New York will pay for up to $50,000 in losses. But when an accident victim’s damages exceed their PIP policy limits, they can pursue a claim against the at-fault party.

Under most circumstances, the tailgater is the at-fault party. But in a brake-checking accident, the brake checker is at least partially at fault for the accident. An insurer or jury might find them entirely at fault since their actions were the last event that triggered the crash.

As a result, the brake-checking driver could bear liability for the resulting injuries and property damage. This means the brake checker or their liability insurer might need to pay for the tailgater’s injuries.

If the injured person’s losses exceed the insurance policy limits, the brake checker must pay the difference. For example, if the injured person has $30,000 in losses and the at-fault driver has the minimum level of liability insurance of $25,000, they will need to make up the $5,000 difference.

Third, the brake checker might face criminal charges for their actions. Reckless driving in New York happens when a driver uses their vehicle to:

  • Unreasonably interfere with the use of the road
  • Unreasonably endanger other road users

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor in New York punishable by up to a year in jail.

What to Do After a Brake-Checking Crash in NY

If you hit another driver in a brake-checking collision, remain calm. A brake check escalates a dangerous situation. Confronting the other driver could make things worse. Instead, report the accident to the police and consider waiting until officers arrive to exchange information with the other driver.

Once you have the other driver’s information, you may need medical and legal assistance. A doctor can diagnose your injuries, and a personal injury lawyer can explain your rights and determine your odds of winning a claim against the other driver.

Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Bronx, NY

If you need legal assistance, contact the Bronx car accident lawyers at Oresky & Associates, PLLC at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation.

We have two convenient locations in New York:

Oresky & Associates, PLLC – Bronx Office
149 E 149th St
Bronx, NY 10451
(718) 993-9999

Oresky & Associates, PLLC – Queens Office
104-09 Roosevelt Ave
Queens, NY 11368
(347) 507-3884

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