Who Could Be Held Liable for a Brake-Checking Car Crash in New Jersey?

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on April 24, 2024  in Car Accident News

wreck car with destroyed radiatorRoad rage has become a growing problem in New Jersey and across the nation. One common way drivers express their road rage is through brake-checking. This refers to intentionally hitting the brakes to scare the rear driver by almost causing a rear-end crash.

Below, our New Jersey auto accident attorneys discuss liability for brake-checking collisions, and common injuries victims may suffer in these types of collisions.

If you were injured by another driver’s recklessness, you have the right to pursue compensation for your injuries. If you need legal help, contact Lynch Law Firm PC’s experienced lawyers. We have been advocating for crash victims for decades, obtaining millions on their behalf.

Schedule a FREE case review today: (800) 518-0508.

What Does Brake-Checking Mean?

Brake-checking describes intentionally stepping on your brakes to try to force the tailgating driver to stop following too closely.

Many drivers who brake-check do not intend to cause a car crash, but oftentimes, that is the result. If the person driving behind a brake-checking driver does not have time to react, he or she might rear-end the vehicle in front.

Other times, the tailgating driver may not be paying attention. As a result, he or she might not realize that the driver in front stepped on the brakes.

Although dangerous and aggressive, tailgating is not a good reason for a driver to brake-check the driver who is following too closely. Brake-checking is an aggressive behavior that can lead to serious consequences.

Why Do Drivers Do This?

Drivers who brake-check usually resort to this act of road rage because they are angry or irritated by the driver following them. They may feel that the trailing driver is following them too closely and want to do something to get the driver’s attention.

It is important to note that these drivers may be angry about something else. Seeing someone following too closely could be the thing that sends them over the edge. They may have had a bad day at work or just got off the phone with a friend or family member and they are angry about the conversation.

Some drivers only intend to scare the trailing driver, not cause a collision. However, some brake-checkers are not thinking that far ahead. They react emotionally without thinking of the potential consequences.

There are times when drivers engage in brake-checking as part of an insurance scam. The goal is to cause a collision and seek compensation from the rear driver’s insurance company. These drivers assert that the tailgating driver is at fault, and they will deny intentionally hitting the brakes for no reason.

If you feel like someone is driving too closely behind you, instead of slamming on your brakes to intimidate him or her, the best thing to do is to maintain a safe speed. This usually forces the aggressive driver to maneuver around you.

Sometimes, a tailgating driver will put some distance between himself or herself and the driver in front after a brake check, by changing lanes or slowing down. However, brake-checking will usually only escalate a road rage situation, possibly irritating the trailing driver.

Road rage can lead to property damage or an off-road altercation. Sometimes, drivers will become incensed to the extent of starting a physical fight. A confrontation such as this can result in serious physical injuries or even death.

Injuries From Brake-Checking Collisions

If you are the trailing driver in an accident caused by brake-checking, you could suffer serious injuries, some of which may have lifelong consequences.

Back or Spinal Cord Injuries

Sudden and violent movements due to a collision can cause serious back and spinal cord injuries, such as a herniated disc. A herniated disc occurs when a disc is pushed into your spinal canal by a tear or rupture.

Broken Bones/Fractures

The impact of a collision can be severe enough to fracture your shoulder. A fracture could cause misalignment, pain and extreme tenderness when touching the injured area.

Concussion or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Even if you were not traveling at a high speed before your collision, it would not take much force to slam your head into the steering wheel or driver-side window or door. This could cause your brain to move inside your skull, which can cause debilitating symptoms.

Facial Injuries

A deployed airbag can cause thermal burns to a crash victim’s face, chest, arms and hands. Some crash victims may hit their face hard enough on the steering wheel, dashboard or another object to cause a dental injury.


Whiplash is caused by the violent back-and-forth movement of your neck and head during impact. Rear-end collisions are notorious for causing this injury. Victims with whiplash may experience sharp pain and/or stiffness in their neck, but they may also feel pain radiating into their shoulders.

Are There Laws Against Brake-Checking in New Jersey?

Under Jessica’s Law, a driver can be charged with a third-degree offense if his or her road rage leads to serious injury. Third-degree offenses in New Jersey are punishable with three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

This law was implemented after a 16-year-old girl was disabled in a car accident that resulted from road rage.

Determining Liability in a Brake-Checking Collision

Most of the time, the driver who rear-ends the vehicle in front of him or her is held liable for the collision. This is because it is the trailing driver’s duty to maintain appropriate distance behind the vehicle in front of him or her.

However, brake-checking is reckless and negligent behavior. If a driver is rear-ended after brake-checking the trailing driver, he or she may be held liable, due to deliberately stepping on the brakes for no good reason.

These cases can be complicated, as there are many factors to consider, such as how close the rear driver was to the lead driver.

Injured in a Brake-Checking Collision? Call Our Trusted Law Firm for Legal Help

If you were injured in a brake-check collision, we strongly recommend seeking legal help as soon as your injuries are stabilized.

At Lynch Law Firm, PC we have been helping injured victims recover compensation for their car crash damages for decades. Our knowledgeable attorneys have a proven history of success.

Call our law offices any time to find out if you have a legal option for recovering compensation. If you hire our firm to represent you, there are no upfront costs to pay.

Request your FREE case review today. Call (800) 518-0508.

* Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

Trusted By:

  • trusted by sponsors
  • trusted by sponsors
  • trusted by sponsors
  • trusted by sponsors
*No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court.