Friend Brake Checked A Car and Was Rear Ended - Who is at Fault?

Hi All
I've always laughed when I have seen these posted but first time knowing someone that's been involved in one.
A colleague at work brake checked a van in peak hour traffic and ended up being rear ended.
I've reviewed the front and rear dash footage and I would think my colleague is at fault.

UPDATE: Play by play below

There were 3 lanes of traffic.
Van was in right lane, friend in the middle.
Broken down car was up ahead in the right lane ahead of the van.
Van tried to get into middle lane and almost pushed friend into path of truck in the left lane.
Friend didn't allow Van in and passed van whilst staying in middle line.
Friend proceeded to brake check the van several times before being rear ended.

Curious to know your thoughts?

Poll Options

  • 385
    Colleague is at fault
  • 250
    Van that caused the rear end should be more careful
  • 65
    Just here with my popcorn waiting for the next episode
  • 58
    Need a link to footage or it didn't happen
  • 9
    Just leave it to insurance
  • 2
    Do they have insurance

Comments

  • Was your colleague in a work vehicle?

    • Personal. On his way to work.
      Happened this morning.

      • +12

        How does your friend feel about his choices now?

  • +128

    Wouldn't there be safer places to put a Vehicle up on a hoist or check the Brake Fluid/Pads/Discs
    than peak hour traffic?

    You could get a better colleague, you deserve better.

    • +4

      You get my vote on that last line!

    • I honestly thought the guy was bedding in his brakes and got rear ended

      • I honestly think it doesn't matter what either driver was attempting.

        All that matters is who owns the road in front of them. A melee of machines ensued, and now the insurance companies will find out they are all closely related (at some point in recent evolution) and refuse their claims as a fraudulently motivated.

        That'll learn 'em for not fighting hard enough over that piece of tarmac.

  • +49

    I think your 'friend' meant to say he/she needed to brake due to traffic conditions and was rear-ended by a tail-gater…

    • It was more a case of there were 3 lanes of traffic.
      Van was in right lane, friend in the middle.
      Broken down car was up ahead in the right lane ahead of the van.
      Van tried to get into middle lane and almost pushed friend into path of truck in the left lane.
      Friend didn't allow Van in and passed van whilst staying in middle line.
      Friend proceeded to brake check the van several times before being rear ended.

      • +59

        Even if your friend is broke checking, van should not be so close it can’t stop if the car in front can.

        Not to say brake checking is right to do, its most definitely wrong.

        • +1

          Just read my own comment and have no idea how break checking turned into broke checking haha

          • +1

            @cloudy: OzB autocorrect

            • @Meconium: ozb is making sure you are not broke and trying to remind you to check your finance

      • +75

        Friend proceeded to brake check the van several times before being rear ended.

        At a dead minimum, tell your workmate, he's a f***ing idiot!

        • +7

          I have… trust me

        • +4

          it takes 2 in this case…

      • +2

        I think he's trying to tell you, that if your friend were to frame his insurance claim as 's/he needed to brake' then the rear-ender would most likely to be found at fault for not giving enough distance between themselves and your colleague.

  • Sounds like a Monday Question

  • +82

    I'm pretty sure if you get rear ended, the person who rear ends you automatically is assumed to be at fault unless they can prove otherwise. That's the whole point of the maintaining safe distance rule - that it's enough stopping distance if the person in front suddenly stops.

    • +18

      Agree, though in this day/age of dashcam's, I wonder what courts may decide if shown footage of someone deliberately passing & then continuously braking in a dangerous manner.

      If video footage exists, then both idiots may be held liable.

      I've witnessed this behaviour a number of times in peak morning, or afternoon traffic. Incidentally, it's always the person in a white van that's break-checking others (mostly ute drivers).

      The issue seems limited to some kind of stupid….

      • +15

        The brake checking driver may be liable for dangerous driving or similar. But one of a driver's responsibilities is to identify and take extra care around hazards. And a deranged driver certainly qualifies as a hazard. If someone is repeatedly brake checking, that's something every driver should be able to identify and give a wide berth.

      • -7

        how do u know his friend isn't some animal loving, RSPCA life member, vegan who was trying to dodge flies, ants and bugs on the road, which is why he had to brake constantly!
        IS A BUGS LIFE NOT IMPORTANTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Surely the van driver is going to remember that the friend was deliberately hanging back to get close and the driver of the van will have memories of the brake lights suddenly flashing on a number of times when the friend did this. Why wouldn't the van driver tell the police and his insurer about this "brake checking" behavior he observed. Yes the friend just needs to lie to get away with it, but I still say if he's dumb enough to do this brake checking in the first place and doesn't already have a lie planned out, then he's not exactly the master strategist. And he's going to get caught out very soon.

      Not to mention, what if the van had a dashcam that the van driver has strategically decided not to reveal the existence of yet?

      • +2

        Like I said, "unless they can prove otherwise". Obviously if you can show that the person was driving erratically and in an unsafe manner then that's proving otherwise.

        Yes if they have dashcam footage it's probably pretty easy, but otherwise, in a 'my word against your word' situation, they aren't gonna be able to prove anything

      • So you are saying the been driver should say he was aware the car in front was breaking suddenly and repeatedly but still didn't leave enough distance to brake safely?

        • I'm saying when you've engaged in a battle of road rage with someone, you can't reasonably expect them to stop their vehicle just because you want them to stop. You can't make them drive 5kph and laugh, or suddenly stop yourself just to piss them off no matter what distance they are. It's not the right thing to do or the legal thing. I'd certainly only do it to someone like Rupert Murdoch, someone who truly deserves it.

    • +3

      The person who rear ends you automatically is assumed to be at fault. But in this scenario the person was doing it for no real reason other than to brake check causing the danger them self so they are at fault.

    • That's the whole point of the maintaining safe distance rule

      The secondary reason for that was for the convenience for legal application. It reduces the need for arbitrating.

      Now there are dashcams so the old rule is no longer all encompassing.

      In the case above, you have two people who are actually exercising poor judgement. Everyone is to a certain extent hence we have margins for error. The car brake checking is doing some deliberately dangerous.

      The van keeping an "unsafe" distance may have no braked hard enough, may have left a tad too little space or misjudged the traction available.

      • The secondary reason for that was for the convenience for legal application. It reduces the need for arbitrating.

        That's what I mean by "automatically assumed to be at fault" - I don't mean morally or whatever, I mean legally.

        Now there are dashcams so the old rule is no longer all encompassing.

        It's still all encompassing, like I said, it's the presumption that they're at fault. The person doing the rear-ending is the one who has to prove the fault of the other driver (with dashcam evidence or otherwise)

  • +40

    Why brake check people in the first place, even if you get the intended outcome of them hitting you, it still creates an inconvenience for you as well.

    • +13

      The friend could be driving a turd and is looking to upgrade.

      • Man I'd hate to drive a turd, so smelly.

      • 2019 Mazda sedan

        • +3

          ohhh. That's a shame.

    • +1

      the intended outcome of them hitting you

      The intended outcome is that they back off, or overtake, or otherwise disappear.

      It's not a great thing to do, but when tapping the brake (so the lights come on but you don't slow down) or flashing your hazard lights doesn't get the message across, I can see the temptation. I tend to just slow down until the tail-gater figures it out (they rarely do).

      • I guess it depends on the action, I don't consider tapping the brake so the driver behind sees brake lights a brake check. My opinion of a brake check is when you brake heavily unexpectedly.

    • -1

      I always thought people who did this were only after insurance money, i've seen cars way ahead of me drive well below the speed limit doing this (alternately they could be drunk, high or getting road head, I don't know and keep my distance). Lots of crazy people on the road as it is.

    • I think most of the time the intended outcome is to scare or get "one-up" on the tailgater, not to actually have an accident take place.

      Working with transport insurance, I have seen people do dumb stuff like this, but various events transpire and the "brake-tester" never see a dollar from anyone. Many end up paying their own at-fault excess, destined to be gouged by insurers for years to come.

  • +2

    Scomo and Albo driving to work

    • Who’s gonna be left with the robo-brake-check-debt?

      • +1

        I'd rather vote for Pedro than those two

  • +49

    Legally speaking, the van is probably at fault.
    But if your friend was behind the van (As your commentary suggests), didn't let him in despite them being in front and trying to change lanes to avoid a disruption - and then intentionally braked causing an accident…….. Sounds like a real douchebag to me

    • +4

      Sounds like a real douchebag to me

      Unfortunately, being a douchebag isn't illegal… I know some people who'd I like to see cop some time for their personalities

      • +7

        Being a douchbag might not be, but brake checking is dangerous driving and is illegal.

        • +4

          As is tailgating

          • +8

            @brendanm: Yeah, and two wrongs don't make a right. So don't cause a car crash by brake checking the tailgator, because you'll find that if the guy has a dashcam showing that your brake checking was dangerous and the cause of the crash, that liability shifts to the person who was actively trying to cause the crash rather the person who tried to avoid it twice.

      • +1

        Actually being a douchebag in this instance is most definitely illegal.

    • Legally speaking the car was driving dangerously purposely trying to cause a crash.

  • +8

    One tradie down. 1m to go.

  • +7

    In most cases the vehicle at the rear will be at fault, as they have caused the accident - through 'unsafe' driving practices.

    If the Van has/had a dash-cam or can prove your friend was 'purposefully' brake checking, this is considered 'dangerous' driving especially if your colleague was doing it repeatedly. In essence it makes appear that your friend was trying to cause an accident.

    It doesn't guarantee that that the van driver wasn't at fault, it gives them a leg to stand on or argue on.

  • +20

    If it's a brake check, often both parties will be held liable by the insurance companies. It does depend on the context of what happened and evidence available.

    Personally, I'd love it if I saw insurance companies refer these cases to the police to consider reckless driving offenses. Brake checking is dangerous. Such a shct move.

    Play silly games, get silly prizes.

    • +3

      Tailgating is dangerous.

      • +2

        It is.. There are plenty of dangerous actions drivers can make.

        I didn't see any mention of tailgating in this instance. Are you assuming tailgating in this instance?

        • +3

          From the footage, it didnt appear the van was tailgating…
          Until the 2nd time he was brake checked.

        • +2

          If the van hit the vehicle in front, they didn't leave enough room between vehicles. The definition of tailgating.

    • -1

      Yes, lets tie the police down with petty traffic accidents.

      • +1

        I won't be as entheusastic as you for petty accidents, but I do believe getting police involved with dangerous driving is a good idea. Being tolerant of dangerous driving can lead to an increase in the death count on our roads. No one wants to lose a loved one, doubly so this close to xmas.

      • +1

        Yes, lets tie the police down with petty traffic accidents.

        Instead, let's let dangerous drivers continue to drive dangerously unchecked, wouldn't want the cops to have to work!

  • +17

    Car accidents are based on negligence. What would a reasonable person do in the circumstance? eg. Heavy traffic, broken down vehicle, blocked lane. Is it reasonable for your colleague to brake check a vehicle trying to change lanes?

    While typically the trailing vehicle needs to leave a safe stopping distance from the car in front, if the car in front is "brake checking" intentionally (and it can be proven - say with dash cam footage) there's a very real chance the front car would be at fault - either wholly or partially as it is not reasonable for a trailing vehicle to have to try and avoid random intentional braking from a disgruntled road user ahead.

    Also, most insurance policies protect you from "accidental" loss or damage. Brake checking is a fairly intentional and dangerous act, so there's a very real chance an insurer would look at any evidence to suggest this is what has happened.

    Source: Worked for a motor insurer deciding liability on car accidents.

    • +1

      Exactly, an intentional 'accident' is not an accident, it is a crime. There is more than money on the line for the friend.

    • Ditto.
      I vote both at fault.

  • +8

    If your 'friend' could see there was a broken down vehicle in the right lane they would have known that the van would need to change lanes so why didn't your 'friend' either speed up or slow down to let the van in?

    • +3

      This is just the beginning of a long line of questioning…

    • +5

      I really don't understand drivers who think like that.

      "Oh he's gonna take my spot, as if I'd let that happen!"

      If they had any brains they'd realise that more often than not there's a big empty lane in front of the broken car, most likely the other car would go back in there soon enough, and if not, they themselves could use it to overtake instead.

    • +1

      Yes, I can't help but think if a little bit of courtesy was shown by your colleague and they simply let the van merge then all of this could have been avoided. Why do people take it as a personal affront if someone merges in front of them?

  • Which War "rear ended"? WWI, WWII, Vietnam? Korea?

    And BTW, both "your friend" and the van driver are douchebags for playing road rage over a case of lane hogging.

    • +1

      War is hell.
      Buy a tank.

    • War?

      • +2

        What is it good for, absolutely nothing!

        • +1

          Agreed!

          • @sharka: Well, war can be quite profitable for some businesses, and some make an absolute killing out of it.

  • +6

    Is there a good reason your “friend” didn’t let the van in and then proceeded to brake check them? Ok the van driver didn’t look properly when merging but it might have been a genuine mistake. Just a simple honk to remind them that there is traffic would have done the trick.

    I’ve noticed that everyone has either forgotten how to drive since COVID or they’re just being more aggressive on the road. If your “friend” could see the broken down car, why wouldn’t he/she let traffic merge to go around?

    Hopefully the van had a dashcam because in as much as the van should have been maintaining a safe distance, your “friend” should be held fully responsible here.

    • +5

      Confirming:
      - Van had a dash cam
      - Van driver was following his wife and wanted to remain behind her in traffic
      - Van dangerously almost caused accident with friend and truck in next lane.
      - Friend made sure an accident occurred.

      • +11

        Then I would say your friend is pretty much up the proverbial. If I was the Van driver and he was contesting liability I would be handing the footage to the police and his insurer. Van driver was an idiot, but your friend was exponentially worse.

    • +4

      You'll find this isn't the case where brake checking can be proved, it's equal or full responsibility to the brake checker for causing the crash.

      People have a responsibility to not be a dangerous driver and brake checking is dangerous.