Car Accidents Caused by Brake Checking in New Mexico

Being tailgated on the road in New Mexico can be an unpleasant experience. You may be tempted to take action to stop the behavior, such as by brake checking. However, just because someone is tailgating you doesn’t mean you necessarily have the right to brake check.

Brake checking can be as dangerous as tailgating — as New Mexico law recognizes. Here is everything you need to know about brake checking in New Mexico and the accidents it causes.

What Is Brake Checking?

When a driver brake checks, they slam their brakes with the intent of forcing someone behind them to do the same. This behavior typically occurs when a driver is being tailgated. The driver of the front car uses brake checking as a way to tell the rear car driver to stop tailgating.

Is Brake Checking Illegal in New Mexico?

New Mexico law does not explicitly refer to brake checking, but this doesn’t mean brake checking is legal. Brake checking is considered to be a form of reckless driving. By braking without warning, the front driver is wantonly disregarding the safety of those in the vehicle behind them.

Reckless driving is a serious offense in the state. A conviction of reckless driving carries a penalty of at least five days in jail — and up to 90 days. Furthermore, the driver can also face a license suspension.

Dangers of Brake Checking

Reckless driving is illegal because it is dangerous. When a driver suddenly slams their brakes, the driver behind them will typically:

  • Not notice in time, resulting in a rear-end accident
  • Swerve into another lane, potentially causing an accident
  • Swerve off the side of the road
  • Slam their brakes, potentially losing control of their vehicle

Any of these situations can easily cause a car accident, despite the front driver only being directly involved in the first scenario. This maneuver not only places the rear driver and any passengers in considerable danger, but also nearby drivers.

You may wonder whether brake checking only falls under reckless driving if it results in an accident. The answer is no. Speeding is illegal whether it causes an accident or not, and the same principle applies to other reckless driving practices like brake checking. The police can issue you a ticket for brake checking even if no one gets hurt.

Common Injuries From Brake Checking

Brake checking often results in rear-end accidents when the driver in the back can’t react quickly enough to the person in front of them slamming their brakes. One of the more common injuries from rear-end accidents is whiplash.

Whiplash is tricky because it often doesn’t show symptoms at first. Symptoms may not appear for a few days to a week after suffering whiplash.

Other common injuries resulting from brake checking can include:

  • Broken bones
  • Traumatic head injuries
  • Spinal injuries
  • Internal injuries

These are all serious injuries that reflect the danger of brake checking.

Is a Rear Driver Always at Fault?

In many cases, the rear driver is responsible for rear-end collisions. However, this isn’t true when the driver in front does something that directly causes the accident.

A common example is when the front driver swerves into the lane of the other driver, cutting them off. This gives the rear driver no time to react, which can cause an accident.

Brake checking falls under the same principle. It is an intentionally reckless action that causes a dangerous situation. In such a scenario, it doesn’t matter whether the rear driver was tailgating or otherwise driving dangerously. The accident was still caused by the front driver.

What To Do After an Accident Caused by Brake Checking

If you are involved in an accident caused by brake checking, you can probably get compensation from the insurance company of the driver who brake checked. However, to get this compensation, you need to take the right steps.

The first thing you should do is seek medical attention. Brake checking usually happens at high speeds, which means you were likely injured in the accident. Any injury should be taken seriously, and you should still seek medical help even if you feel that you weren’t hurt. Injury symptoms don’t always appear immediately.

If you are able, you should also document the accident scene. This means taking pictures of all damage and injuries. Also, get the contact information for any witnesses if you can.

There is a possibility the other driver may have fled the scene. If this happened, try to determine whether any witnesses obtained the license plate number of the driver or if any cameras in the area might have recorded the driver. 

When the police arrive, let them know what happened so that they can try to track down the driver who fled.

It is essential to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Filing a car accident claim after an accident caused by brake checking can be complicated. Insurance companies may fight your claim, especially if you rear-ended the other driver because they brake-checked you. It is better to let your attorney fight the insurance company than to try to fight it alone.

Preventing Brake Checking Accidents

Perhaps the most notable danger of brake checking is that it occurs without warning. One moment, you are driving — usually at high speed — and the next moment, the driver in front of you slams their brakes. The best way to avoid getting in a brake-checking accident is to never tailgate and to avoid driving behind anyone who is driving recklessly.

If you do experience an accident related to brake checking in New Mexico, make sure you consult an attorney. A seasoned car accident attorney can advise you of your rights and help you determine the best path forward.

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Award-Winning Albuquerque Car Accident Lawyers

Crash reports include valuable information. If you bring your crash report to your free consultation, we can use it to evaluate your claim. Contact our Albuquerque car accident attorneys at Curiel & Runion Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers to discuss how we use crash reports to fight for fair injury compensation.