Liability for a Brake-Check Collision in Minnesota

rear view of traffic on highwayTailgating other cars is a widespread problem on our nation’s roads. It often occurs because drivers are speeding, and they are angry that another car is in front of them forcing them to slow down. Tailgaters may even feel like they have a right to follow another car so closely because the other car should get out of the way.

However, tailgaters often do not consider that the driver in the car in front of them may get angry about being followed so closely. In fact, sometimes drivers who are being tailgated get so angry they slam on the brakes, a practice called brake checking. Their goal is not to cause a crash, but simply to get the vehicle behind them to back away.  Unfortunately, the following behind vehicle may not brake in time and a crash occurs.

While tailgating is a form of reckless driving, so is brake checking. This raises questions about fault for the crash and liability for damages. Is fault shared between both drivers? Can one driver bear most of the fault?

Below, we discuss brake-checking collisions and how liability may be assessed. If you were injured in a brake-checking crash, call TSR Injury Law today to discuss legal options. An initial consultation with a Bloomington car accident lawyer is free, and we do not charge upfront fees.

Defining Brake Checking

Brake checking is a type of aggressive driving that occurs when a driver suddenly hits the brakes to shock the driver following closely behind them. Brake checking is often a way for drivers to express road rage. They want to punish the driver behind them by scaring them and getting them to slow down and back off.

The lead driver usually does not want to cause a crash, but crashes often result from brake checking. The other driver is following so closely that it is difficult if not impossible to avoid a crash if the lead driver suddenly slams on the brakes.

There are times when one driver may brake check another to attempt to commit insurance fraud. The lead driver may cause a crash and file a claim against the other driver’s liability insurance. To avoid liability, the trailing driver would need to prove the lead driver did not have a valid reason for slamming on the brakes.

How Brake Checking Could Cause a Crash

Following another car too closely is dangerous because you leave yourself less time to react if the lead driver suddenly hits the brakes. Even if the lead driver is not brake checking you, there is a high likelihood of a crash because you are so close to the other vehicle.

The faster your car and the other car are traveling, the greater the likelihood of a crash because it takes longer to slow down and come to a complete stop.

Drivers may think they will be okay because they can keep their eyes on the car in front of them and be prepared to react if the lead driver slows down. However, this is a risky assumption, no matter how well you think you can drive.

While brake checking most often results in rear-end crashes, it is possible for brake checking to cause the rear driver to swerve out of the way and crash into another vehicle or even a fixed object (road sign, guardrail, tree, utility pole, etc.).

Who is at Fault for a Brake-Checking Collision?

Most of the time, one driver bears most of the fault for a crash. However, there are times when fault is shared between two or more drivers.

One of the challenges of assigning fault for a brake-checking crash is that both drivers were negligent. Tailgating is against the law, but so is hitting the brakes for no reason with the goal of scaring or intimidating the trailing driver.

Fault is going to be assigned based on the details of the crash. For example, your attorney is going to try to determine if the lead driver had a legitimate reason to hit the brakes. If there was no legitimate reason to hit the brakes, the lead driver may bear a significant percentage of fault.

The other issue that needs to be assessed is how close both vehicles were before the lead driver slammed on the brakes. If the rear driver was extremely close, he or she is probably going to be assigned a significant percentage of fault as well.

Under state law, you cannot follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent. You are supposed to take note of the traffic around you, speed of other vehicles and road conditions when determining how closely to follow other vehicles. In other words, there may be times when you should stay farther behind other vehicles because there is heavy traffic or bad weather.

The law does not specify a safe following distance, but the general rule is three seconds. You should probably add another second or two in heavy traffic or bad weather.

Three seconds means you should be able to count to three between the time the lead vehicle passes an object and the time your car passes it.

Minnesota’s Comparative Negligence Law

Under state law, the victim can share fault for a crash and still recover compensation for damages. Your compensation award can be reduced by your percentage of fault. If you bear more fault than the other driver, you cannot recover any compensation for your damages.

Could the Brake-Checking Driver’s Insurance Company Deny Coverage?

Insurance companies often try to deny coverage by arguing the crash resulted from an intentional act. For example, the insurance company for the driver who engaged in brake checking may try to deny liability coverage. However, it may be difficult to prove the brake-checking driver intended to cause a crash.

The insurance company’s argument may not hold up in court. That is why it is important to be represented by an experienced attorney who can challenge the insurance company’s attempts to deny coverage.

At TSR, we are also prepared to take the case to court to pursue full compensation. We have a proven track record of securing compensation for crash victims, through settlements and courtroom verdicts.

Give TSR Injury Law a Call Today

Are you unsure if you need an attorney to help you recover full compensation after a crash?

You do not need to try to answer this question on your own. Give us a call to schedule your free legal consultation. This free meeting is a chance to learn about the benefits of hiring an attorney, and there is no obligation to hire our firm.

TSR Injury Law. No Upfront Fees. Call: (612) TSR-TIME.

Challenges of Claims for Rear-End Motorcycle Crashes

motorcycle rearRear-end crashes between two cars are often viewed as minor collisions. While every situation is different, this may be true for some crashes. However, rear-end motorcycle crashes are often much more dangerous, as there is a significant risk of the motorcyclist being thrown off the bike.

These crashes can cause severe injuries for riders, particularly when the crash occurs at high speed. Victims may be left with large medical bills and other damages that affect various aspects of their lives. Legal claims for these types of crashes could be complicated because the victim may be seeking significant compensation. Insurance companies will always look for a way to deny or at least underpay these claims.

Injured riders should strongly consider legal representation. You not only need a Bloomington motorcycle accident attorney who knows how to determine the full value of a claim and how to negotiate, but you also need an attorney who is prepared to take a case to court. You need full compensation to ensure you can get the medical treatment you need and mitigate other damages you suffered.

Why Do Rear-End Motorcycle Crashes Happen?

Many rear-end motorcycle crashes happen at intersections. For example, when a motorcyclist stops or slows down at an intersection and gets hit by an approaching car. Motorcycle rear-end crashes may also happen in heavy traffic.

Rear-end crashes could also happen around blind curves. The rear driver may not be able to see around the corner to see that a motorcycle is stopped ahead. If the driver is not familiar with the area, he or she may be more likely to get into a crash. Drivers who are more familiar with the area may anticipate stopped traffic around the corner and react accordingly.

There are various reasons why drivers of cars may crash into the rear of a motorcycle. For example, they may have been distracted. They may have been:

  • Texting
  • Engaging in a cellphone conversation
  • Paying attention to a GPS system
  • Talking to passengers
  • Eating
  • Applying makeup

These are all reasons for rear-end crashes between any two vehicles, including motorcycles. However, drivers often do not check for motorcycles. If they are checking for other vehicles, they are looking for cars. People often fail to see things they are not looking for. Motorcycles are much smaller than cars, so it may be easier to miss them, particularly if you are not being attentive to the road and the traffic around you.

Some drivers do not leave enough space between their vehicle and the one in front of them. This can make it more difficult to stop before plowing into the back of the vehicle in front of them. This can be particularly dangerous when the rear driver is distracted, impaired or speeding.

Often, drivers who are following another vehicle too closely are speeding. They are unable to get around the vehicle in front of them and they decide to tailgate this vehicle.

It is important to note that when a motorcyclist downshifts or rolls out the throttle, it slows the bike down but does not cause the brake lights to light up. That is why drivers need to keep their eyes on the road, so they can notice when a vehicle appears to be slowing down.

Impaired driving is another reason for a rear-end motorcycle crash. Drivers who are under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or even prescription drugs may have impaired reaction time. They may not react quickly enough to stop before hitting a motorcyclist, particularly if they were not paying attention, which often happens to impaired drivers.

Injuries Riders May Suffer in a Rear-End Crash

When a car rear-ends a motorcycle, the rider could get thrown over the handlebars and onto the ground. The bike can cartwheel and catapult the rider into the air. Sometimes riders fall to the left or right because of the impact.

These crashes can result in serious injuries, including:

  • Spinal cord damage
  • Whiplash
  • Fractures
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Internal organ damage
  • Disfiguring injuries
  • Crush injuries that require amputation
  • Lacerations
  • Head injuries
  • Soft-tissue damage
  • Herniated discs

Assessing Liability for a Rear-End Motorcycle Crash

Drivers are often liable for crashes with motorcycles. They are often negligent for some reason, such as distracted driving, tailgating, impaired driving or speeding.

Negligence refers to a failure to uphold a duty of care. In other words, negligence is a failure to take reasonable action to prevent an injury. Following traffic laws can be considered reasonable action.

For example, under state law, drivers may not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, considering the speed of other vehicles and traffic conditions.

While drivers are often at fault for rear-end motorcycle crashes, there are times when motorcyclists could be partially at fault. For example, if a motorcyclist cuts off another car while changing lanes, and a rear-end crash results, the motorcyclist may be at least partially at fault.

If the brake light on your bike was not working, and you were rear-ended, it may be possible to argue you are partially to blame because the rear driver was not properly warned you were slowing down.

Preventing a Rear-End Motorcycle Collision

Even though drivers have an obligation to take reasonable care to prevent motorcycle crashes, riders should still take precautions to reduce the risk of a crash.

For example, be aware of cars behind you. As you approach the intersection, you should try to pull over to one side of the lane. Avoid staying in the center of the lane.

Keep an eye on your sideview mirrors and if a vehicle that is approaching does not seem to be slowing down, you may want to move out of the way.

Make sure your brake lights work and try to get away from drivers who are tailgating you.

A large percentage of motorcycle crashes happen in intersections, which is why riders need to take extra precautions to help prevent a crash.

Contact Us for a Free Legal Consultation

TSR Injury Law has been advocating for the injured in Minnesota for decades and we have a proven track record. If you were injured in a motorcycle collision, you could greatly benefit from the help of a licensed attorney.

There are no upfront fees at TSR. Your initial legal consultation is free. If we validate your claim, and you choose to hire our firm, there are no fees before we take your case. There are also no fees while we work to pursue compensation.

Have legal questions? We are ready to answer them. Call (612) TSR-TIME.

Staying Safe in These Dangerous Minneapolis Intersections

cars going through intersectionMany car crashes are the result of another driver’s actions. For example, many drivers simply do not pay enough attention to those around them or exercise caution when changing lanes or making other driving maneuvers.

There are still things you can do to help lessen your risk of a crash, even when approaching and passing through a dangerous intersection.

Below, learn more about some of the most dangerous intersections in the Minneapolis area and how to lower your risk of a crash.

If you suffered an injury caused by another driver’s negligence, give us a call today to discuss how we may be able to help you. The consultation is free and if we validate your claim, there are no fees while working on your case.

Our Minneapolis auto accident lawyers have recovered millions on behalf of our clients.

Dangerous Minneapolis Intersections

If you can avoid going through these intersections and find an alternate route, you should do so. However, sometimes this is just not possible. That is why you need to know about what makes these locations dangerous and how you can lower your risk of a potentially serious crash.

East 26th Street and MN 55

There are a lot of rear-end crashes here because it is the first light when exiting the freeway. Drivers are often speeding or distracted, and they do not give themselves enough time to stop. There are often dozens of crashes every few years.

66th Avenue and MN 252

Drivers often do not yield when turning right, which results in many crashes. Unfortunately, if you give drivers too much freedom, they often abuse it and put themselves and others at risk.

MN 55 (Olson Mem) East Ramps and IS 94

Unfortunately, drivers are often confused and trying to find out where to go. When drivers are unsure about what to do, they often do not pay enough attention. They may slow down unexpectedly or change lanes without signaling. This increases the risk of a crash.

Lake Street West and Lyndale Avenue

This is a risky area for pedestrians. If you are on foot, keep your eye out for approaching cars. Only cross the street in designated crosswalks and do not assume drivers see you. Try to make eye contact and wave at drivers.

Some of the other dangerous intersections that may have a higher risk of crashes include:

  • MN 36 and MN 120
  • MN 65 and 221st Avenue and East Bethel
  • US 52 and CSAH 9
  • IS 94 and MN 55 (Olson Mem) West Ramps
  • MN 65 and 93rd Lane in Blaine
  • US 2 and MN 89 Near Wilton

Meanwhile, these intersections can be very dangerous for pedestrians:

  • Franklin Avenue and Nicollet Avenue
  • Lake Street West and Blaisdell Avenue
  • Cedar Avenue and Riverside Avenue
  • Hennepin Avenue and 4th Street South

Avoiding Crashes in Intersections in Minnesota

There are some general rules for staying safe in intersections. As with other driving situations, the key is not to assume other drivers will act responsibly.

Never Change Lanes

This is a rule people often forget or simply ignore. Not only is this illegal, but other drivers are not expecting it. Changing lanes in an intersection could easily cause a sideswipe crash.

Pay Attention When Turning Right

Sometimes drivers rear-end other drivers while waiting to make a right turn on a red light. If you are in a line of cars waiting to turn right, do not pull ahead until the car in front of you makes the turn.

Do Not Assume Other Drivers Will Stop

Sometimes drivers run red lights. You should always check for oncoming cars when you turn right. If you are unsure, slow down and wait a second.

Use Extra Caution When the Traffic Lights Are Not Working

When this happens, the intersection become a four-way stop. Try to make eye contact with the other drivers to determine when it is safe to go. Remember, it is one line of cars at a time. Do not try to sneak in behind other cars.

Keep an Eye Out for Pedestrians

Stop before the front of your car gets into the crosswalk. Watch for pedestrians as you pull up to make a right turn. As you complete your turn, look left and right to be sure no one is coming. Unfortunately, pedestrians do not always pay enough attention.

Give Us a Call Today for Help After a Crash

Think you do not need an attorney after a crash?

You cannot count on the insurance company to take care of you. Insurance companies regularly deny and devalue claims, even when fault is clear, and victims have suffered severe injuries.

You need an experienced attorney to help you recover maximum compensation for your damages. While compensation cannot change what happened, recovering compensation can be an essential part of moving forward after a crash.

Give us a call today to learn more. Call: (612) TSR-TIME.