Getting compensation after a brake-check accident in Charlotte
Brake checking occurs when a driver suddenly applies the brake in the interest of causing a car accident or startling the driver of the vehicle directly behind them.
North Carolina courts generally classify brake checking as aggressive or reckless driving. Therefore, a driver who causes an accident by engaging in brake checking is more likely to be legally responsible for compensating victims who are injured in a resulting accident.
A North Carolina personal injury lawyer can help brake-checking accident victims get compensation for the accident that caused their injury.
Why do drivers engage in brake checking?
Drivers sometimes impulsively engage in brake checking if they believe the driver of the vehicle behind them is tailgating or following too closely. Aggressive drivers may also maneuver to get in front of another driver and brake check in retaliation during moments of road rage.
Although brake checking is not inherently illegal in North Carolina, law enforcement officers may issue a citation against drivers who engage in brake checking and other reckless driving behaviors. If brake checking causes an accident that results in someone else’s injury, the driver may be ordered by a North Carolina civil court to compensate the injured party.
Common injuries in brake-checking accidents
Brake-checking accidents can cause rear-end accidents and pile-up collisions if multiple cars are involved. Common injuries in these types of accidents include the following:
- Brain injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
Steps to take after a brake-check accident
Receiving a medical exam to rule out severe injury is the top priority in any traffic accident. Even if you don’t initially appear to be uninjured, there are certain steps you should take after a North Carolina car accident to ensure your chance at compensation:
- Call 911 to request the police and, if necessary, an ambulance.
- Never apologize for the accident or admit fault.
- Take photos of the accident scene from multiple angles.
- Exchange contact information with any involved drivers, including the driver’s name, email address, phone number, vehicle registration and insurance company.
- If possible, get the contact information of eyewitnesses who may be able to clarify details regarding the accident.
- Contact your insurance company and provide basic details of the accident.
- Contact a car accident attorney to start the process of filing a personal injury claim and collecting evidence.
Proving fault in a North Carolina brake-checking accident
In brake-checking cases, proving that the other driver intentionally and recklessly made the abrupt stop is the most challenging task.
Fortunately, a North Carolina car accident attorney can help an accident victim gather the evidence they need to present their case. Eyewitness statements, police reports and video footage may provide a critical link in establishing the other party’s fault.
How does contributory negligence affect fault in North Carolina?
North Carolina is 1 of the 5 states in the U.S. that applies the pure contributory negligence rule to personal injury cases. Under this rule, a plaintiff in a personal injury case is barred from receiving compensation for their injuries if the defendant can prove the plaintiff was partially at fault for the accident.
For example, if it could be proven that you were on your phone or otherwise distracted when another driver ran a red light and caused an accident, you might not be able to collect any compensation because you were partially to blame for the accident.
However, in these cases, the defendant who argues the plaintiff was partially at fault has the burden of proof to establish that the plaintiff’s behavior negligently contributed to the cause of the accident.
Potential defenses for plaintiffs against a contributory negligence claim
If a defendant argues an injured plaintiff contributed to the accident that caused the injury, the plaintiff may be able to prevail in the claim by raising a successful defense. There are several defenses that allow plaintiffs to receive compensation even if they were partially at fault in the accident that caused their injury.
- Plaintiffs are not liable under the theory of pure contributory negligence if the defendant’s behavior exhibited gross negligence. Gross negligence is characterized by willful or wanton that results in the plaintiff’s injury. If the defendant’s behavior was grossly negligent, the plaintiff might still be able to receive compensation even if they contributed to the accident that caused the injury.
- Under the last clear chance doctrine, a plaintiff may not be at fault in an accident if the defendant could have avoided the accident by using reasonable care at any moment prior to the accident. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff to prove the defendant knew the plaintiff was at risk of being injured. The plaintiff must also prove the defendant could have prevented the accident but failed to do so.
- North Carolina courts may require the defendant to prove the plaintiff’s contributory negligence was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury. The proximate cause doctrine calls for the victim’s injury to have been the foreseeable result of the defendant’s behavior. In these instances, the plaintiff will not be barred from receiving compensation unless the defendant proves the plaintiff’s negligent behavior was the proximate cause of the injury.
A North Carolina car accident attorney can determine the best strategy for injured plaintiffs to overcome North Carolina’s pure contributory negligence law.
Types of compensation in brake-check accidents
The types and amount of compensation injured plaintiffs may receive depends on the nature of the accident and the severity and extent of the resulting injuries.
A North Carolina court may award an accident victim compensation to cover economic losses, including:
- Property damage to your vehicle and other personal belongings.
- Medical expenses like surgeries, doctor appointments, rehabilitation, medical supplies and medications.
- Lost income if you’re required to take time off from work while you recover from your injuries. Victims who are unable to return to work as a result of a brake-checking accident may receive compensation for future lost income as well.
If the victim’s injuries drastically affect their lifestyle or cause severe pain, the court may award the injured party noneconomic damages, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium (companionship)
If an accident causes death, the victim’s surviving dependents may receive compensation for funeral expenses, loss of support and emotional damages through a wrongful death lawsuit.
These are only awarded in cases of extreme disregard or intentional injury and are intended to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future.
How long do I have to file a car accident claim in North Carolina?
North Carolina requires car accident victims who want to file a civil court claim must do so within 3 years of the date of the accident or injury. Failure to file a claim within this timeframe could prevent you from collecting any compensation.
Contact an experienced Charlotte car accident attorney
If you’ve been injured in a brake-check car accident in North Carolina, you should consider contacting a Charlotte car crash attorney to learn more about your rights.
No matter what type of accident you’ve experienced, the attorneys at Wilder Pantazis Law Group are fully equipped and prepared to hold the responsible party liable for your damages. Our team of tried and tested attorneys have decades of experience successfully handling cases across North Carolina and are dedicated to getting our clients maximum compensation for their injuries.
Contact us today for a free consultation of your case.