Who is at Fault for a Failure to Brake Car Accident in Texas?

Who is at Fault for a Failure to Brake Car Accident in Texas?

As a driver, ensuring the safety of yourself and your passengers is your top priority. However, even the most careful drivers can find themselves in dangerous situations through no fault of their own. When a vehicle’s braking system fails, it can lead to a serious accident with life-changing consequences. If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Texas due to brake failure, you probably have many questions about who is responsible and liable for damages. Texas law recognizes that brake failures can happen for a number of reasons, and fault is not always clear cut. To determine liability in your specific case, it’s important to understand the factors that contribute to brake failure and how Texas statutes assign responsibility. Read on to learn more about your options for pursuing compensation after a failure to brake car accident.

What Is a Failure to Brake Accident in Texas?

A failure to brake accident occurs when a vehicle's braking system malfunctions, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle and collide with another vehicle, property, or pedestrian. In Texas, a failure to brake accident can lead to legal liability for the driver or manufacturer depending on the cause of the brake failure.

If the brake failure was due to the driver's negligence in properly maintaining the vehicle's braking system, the driver can typically be held liable for any resulting accidents or injuries. For example, if a driver fails to have their brake pads replaced when they become excessively worn down, and this results in an accident, the driver would likely be at fault. However, if the brake failure was due to a defect in the vehicle's design or manufacturing, the vehicle manufacturer may share liability.

To determine liability in a failure to brake accident, investigators will examine the vehicle's braking system to ascertain the cause of the failure. If the failure was due to lack of maintenance or abuse, the driver will likely be deemed at fault. If a defect is discovered, the vehicle manufacturer may be liable, especially if there have been prior recalls for similar brake defects or failures. In some cases, liability may be shared between the driver and manufacturer.

Victims of a failure to brake accident in Texas may be able to recover damages for any injuries or property damage by filing a lawsuit against the at-fault parties. An experienced attorney can help determine who is liable in your specific accident and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Texas Law on Following Distance and Rear-End Collisions

According to Texas law, if you rear-end another vehicle, you are typically considered at fault for the accident. As the following driver, you are required to maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you so you can avoid a collision if the lead driver brakes suddenly.

When determining fault in a rear-end collision, the court will consider if the following driver was maintaining proper following distance for the speed at which both vehicles were traveling. As a general rule, you should keep at least 3 to 4 seconds of following distance for every 10 miles per hour. So if traveling at 40 mph, keep 12-16 seconds between you and the vehicle ahead. This provides adequate time to react and brake if needed.

Failure to leave sufficient following distance is considered negligence under Texas law. As the negligent party, you can be held liable for damages to the other vehicle, medical bills, lost wages, and other costs. The court may find you entirely at fault, or assign a percentage of fault to each driver depending on the specific circumstances.

To avoid liability in a rear-end collision, always keep a safe following distance, remain attentive to the vehicle in front of you, and be prepared to brake suddenly. Driving distracted or impaired significantly reduces your reaction time and ability to stop promptly. Tailgating or distracted driving could make you solely responsible in a rear-end accident, even if the other driver made an abrupt stop.

The laws on following distance and rear-end collisions apply to all motor vehicles in Texas, including passenger cars, commercial trucks, motorcycles, and others. No matter what type of vehicle you drive, maintaining proper following distance and control of your vehicle is required under the law. Failure to do so could result in legal liability if you rear-end another driver.

Proving the Other Driver Failed to Brake

To prove the other driver failed to brake in a car accident in Texas, you must establish several key facts.

Eyewitness Accounts

Eyewitness testimony from passengers in your vehicle or bystanders can confirm the other driver did not slow or stop. Their statements should note the speed of the vehicles before impact, if brake lights came on, the noise of braking, and other details indicating braking did or did not occur. Eyewitnesses should provide their full contact information for follow-up.

Damage Patterns

The damage to both vehicles can indicate whether braking took place. Heavy front-end damage to the other vehicle and rear-end damage to your vehicle may show lack of braking. An accident reconstructionist analyzes damage to determine the speeds and forces involved, which can confirm or rule out braking. They can also examine skid marks, or lack thereof, at the scene.

Statements from the Other Driver

The at-fault driver may admit to police or in recorded conversations with you that they did not have time to brake or were distracted. Their claims of malfunctioning brakes must be proven with repair records, as vehicles must have properly functioning brakes by law.

Event Data Recorders

If either vehicle has an event data recorder (EDR) or “black box,” data from the device may register whether braking occurred. EDRs record factors like vehicle speed, brake use, throttle position and force of impact. With a court order, data from the other vehicle’s EDR can be accessed to objectively determine if they braked.

By collecting evidence from multiple sources that all point to the same conclusion - that the other driver failed to brake and caused the collision - you can build a strong case to prove their negligence and liability. Thoroughly documenting the facts of what happened and obtaining legal counsel is critical to succeeding in an insurance claim or lawsuit stemming from a rear-end accident. The at-fault driver should be held responsible for damages through their insurance policy or in court.

When the Front Driver May Share Blame

As the front driver in a car accident, you may share some portion of the blame for a failure to brake accident in Texas. Several scenarios could contribute to liability on your part:

Aggressive or Distracted Driving

If you were driving aggressively by speeding, tailgating, or frequently changing lanes, it may be difficult for you to stop in time to avoid hitting a vehicle in front of you. Similarly, if you were distracted by your phone, radio, or passengers and failed to notice the vehicle in front of you braking, you could be found partly at fault. In both cases, your attention was diverted from the road and traffic conditions ahead.

Following Too Closely

Rear-ending the vehicle in front of you is typically an indication you were following too closely to brake in time. As a general rule of thumb, you should remain at least 3 to 4 seconds of distance between you and the car ahead of you to allow adequate braking time. At higher speeds, increase your following distance to 5 or 6 seconds.

Mechanical Issues

In some cases, a mechanical failure like brake failure, can contribute to your inability to stop in time. However, you must be able to demonstrate that you properly maintained your vehicle with records of brake inspections and repairs to minimize liability. If your brakes failed due to lack of maintenance or defective parts, you may face a larger portion of fault.

Weather Conditions

Adverse weather conditions like heavy rain, snow, or fog can also reduce visibility and traction, making it difficult to brake. While the weather itself is outside of your control, you are still expected to exercise caution by slowing down, increasing following distance, and avoiding heavy braking. Failure to adjust your driving for the weather conditions may result in shared liability for an accident.

In summary, the front driver may share blame for a failure to brake car accident if driving aggressively or while distracted, following too closely, experiencing mechanical issues due to lack of maintenance, or failing to exercise caution in poor weather conditions. By driving defensively, properly maintaining your vehicle, and adjusting for weather and traffic, you can minimize your liability should an accident occur.

Contributing Factors in Failure to Brake Accidents

There are several factors that may contribute to a failure to brake accident in Texas. As the driver, it is important to understand these factors to ensure safe driving practices.

Vehicle Mechanics

The brake system in a vehicle is comprised of many components that allow the brakes to function properly. If there are any issues with the brake pads, calipers, brake fluid, or other parts, the ability to brake may be impaired. It is important that drivers inspect brake pads and rotors regularly and have them replaced when they become too worn. Brake fluid should also be checked periodically to ensure there are no leaks and that the level remains in the safe operating range as recommended in the owner’s manual.

Weather Conditions

Inclement weather such as rain, snow, and ice can negatively impact a vehicle’s ability to brake properly. When roads are wet or icy, it takes a longer distance for a vehicle to come to a complete stop due to decreased tire traction. To avoid issues braking in poor weather, drivers should reduce speed, increase following distance between vehicles, and avoid heavy braking or turning suddenly.

Driver Error

In some situations, the driver may be at fault for a failure to brake accident. Distracted driving, drowsy driving, or impaired driving can impair a driver’s ability to perceive hazards and react in time to brake appropriately. It is essential that drivers remain focused on the road, get adequate rest, and never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Following safe driving practices, properly maintaining your vehicle, and understanding how to react in hazardous weather conditions can help reduce the likelihood of a failure to brake accident. However, if an accident does occur due to another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Speaking with a car accident lawyer in Texas can help determine fault and next steps to take.

Gathering Evidence After a Failure to Brake Crash

Gathering evidence after a failure to brake accident in Texas is crucial for determining liability and securing compensation. As the victim of a crash, it is your responsibility to collect as much information as possible regarding the events leading up to and following the collision. The evidence you obtain can help establish that the other driver failed to brake and is therefore at fault.

Photograph the scene

Take pictures of your vehicle and the other car involved in the accident. Be sure to capture images of skid marks, fluid spills, traffic controls like stop signs or traffic lights, and any other details that provide context about how and why the crash occurred. Photograph the license plate of the other vehicle as well. Pictures are invaluable for insurance claims and potential legal action.

Obtain contact information

Exchange insurance details, driver's license numbers, names, addresses, and phone numbers with all parties involved, including witnesses. Write this information down in case phones or cameras were damaged in the crash.

Talk to witnesses

Seek out neutral third-party witnesses and get their accounts of what happened. Ask them to describe where each vehicle was, who had the right of way, traffic light status, speed of travel and anything else relevant to demonstrating the other driver failed to brake. Request contact information for any potential future statements or depositions.

Call the police

Notify the police of the accident and request a police report be filed. The report can contain key details to help establish fault, such as the officer's analysis of how the crash occurred based on the state of the vehicles and roadway. Be cooperative and provide an honest statement to the police about what you witnessed.

Consult an attorney

For severe injury crashes, it is advisable to contact a personal injury attorney. An attorney can conduct a thorough investigation, including recreating the accident, to build a case against the at-fault driver. They can also handle insurance claims and lawsuits on your behalf to recover damages like medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and vehicle repair or replacement costs.

Working With Insurance Companies After a Failure to Brake Accident

Working with insurance companies after a failure to brake accident can be complicated. As the victim in such an accident, there are several steps you should take to file a claim and seek compensation.

Contact Your Insurance Provider

Notify your auto insurance provider as soon as possible about the accident and your intent to file a claim. Provide details about the incident, including time, location, vehicles involved, and contact information for any witnesses. Your insurance company will open a claim file and may send an adjuster to inspect your vehicle. They can also advise you on next steps to take.

Determine Fault

In a failure to brake accident, fault is typically assigned to the driver of the vehicle with faulty or non-functioning brakes. However, multiple parties could share liability, including the vehicle owner or a mechanic who recently serviced the brakes. Your insurance company and legal counsel can investigate to establish liability and determine the at-fault party or parties.

File a Police Report

File an official police report documenting the details of the accident as soon as you are able. The report will contain information to support your claim, including the responding officer’s determination of fault. Provide the report to your insurance company and keep a copy for your records.

Contact the At-Fault Party’s Insurance

Once fault has been established, contact the at-fault party’s insurance company to file a claim for compensation. Be prepared to provide details about the accident, medical reports, repair or replacement estimates for your vehicle, and other expenses. Negotiate a fair settlement for your injuries, damages and losses. If needed, get legal counsel involved to act on your behalf.

Take Further Action

If the at-fault party’s insurance does not provide adequate compensation or denies your claim, you may need to take further action. This could include filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover costs. Again, discuss your options with your insurance provider and legal counsel to determine the best course of action based on the details of your case.

With persistence and by following the proper steps, you can obtain fair compensation after a failure to brake accident. However, the process often requires patience and can take time. Try to avoid rushing into a settlement before fully understanding your rights and the total costs involved. Carefully review any settlement offers with your legal and insurance team.

Finding an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Texas

Do Your Research

When looking for a car accident lawyer in Texas, do thorough research to find an experienced attorney. Check online reviews from reputable sites like Avvo, Lawyers.com and Martindale-Hubbell to get a sense of their reputation and credentials. Look for a lawyer with several years of experience handling car accident and personal injury cases. See if they are rated by organizations like Super Lawyers or have received accolades from legal peers.

Schedule Consultations

Meet with a few candidates that you have researched and connect with. Most car accident lawyers in Texas will offer a free initial consultation. Ask them about their experience with cases similar to yours, their success rate in negotiating settlements or winning verdicts, and whether they charge on contingency. Discuss their availability and who will be handling the day-to-day details of your case. Go with the lawyer you feel will fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.

Consider Their Focus

An ideal car accident lawyer in Texas will focus primarily on personal injury and car accident law. They should have extensive knowledge of the complex laws surrounding liability, negligence and determining fault in motor vehicle collisions. They will also be familiar with the legal procedures for filing insurance claims, negotiating with adjusters and litigating in court if needed. Lawyers who handle a variety of unrelated practice areas may lack the expertise needed for a car accident case.

Check Their Credentials

In Texas, car accident lawyers must be licensed to practice law, having earned a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from an accredited law school. They should also be an active member of legal organizations like the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Trial Lawyers Association and local bar associations. Board certification in personal injury trial law shows an advanced level of skill and experience.

By doing your due diligence, you can find an experienced car accident lawyer in Texas to advocate on your behalf. They can handle communications with insurance companies, determine who is at fault, file a lawsuit if needed and seek the maximum compensation for your injuries. With the right legal counsel, you have the best chance of recovering damages after an auto collision.

FAQ on Failure to Brake Car Accidents in Texas

A failure to brake car accident can happen for several reasons in Texas. As the driver, you are typically considered at fault if you fail to brake in time to avoid hitting another vehicle or object. However, there are exceptions to this.

Vehicle Malfunction

If your brakes fail due to a defect or malfunction in the vehicle that is out of your control, you may not be found fully at fault. You must be able to prove the brakes were properly maintained and the failure was sudden and unexpected. It is best to have records of brake inspections and repairs to support your claim.

Obstruction in the Road

If there was an unexpected obstruction in the roadway, such as debris, that made braking impossible and caused the accident, you may share fault or be found not at fault. You must be driving safely for road conditions at the time and have no reasonable way to avoid the obstruction.

Weather Conditions

Adverse weather conditions like heavy rain, snow, or ice can lead to a failure to brake. If the weather made stopping safely impossible despite driving cautiously for the conditions, fault may be shared or the weather itself found at fault. You must be able to show you were exercising reasonable caution for the weather at the time of the accident.

Mechanical Failure in Another Vehicle

If another vehicle malfunctioned and caused you to crash into them, they may share a portion of the fault. For example, if a vehicle in front of you suffered a brake failure and rolled into your path, the other driver’s negligence in maintaining their brakes may make them partially at fault for your inability to stop in time.

In summary, while a driver is typically at fault for failing to brake and avoid an accident, there are several circumstances that may mitigate fault or shift it to another party or factor. The specifics of your accident and ability to prove fault was not solely due to your own negligence as a driver will determine who is liable in your particular case.


You now have a better understanding of how fault can be determined in a failure to brake car accident in Texas. The driver is typically considered negligent for failing to maintain a safe speed and distance to avoid a collision. However, other factors like defective vehicle components or poor road conditions could also share some liability. Determining fault in these complex accidents often requires analyzing the specifics of the incident and applicable traffic laws with the help of lawyers at Fletcher Law and insurance professionals. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident like this, seeking counsel from experienced car accident attorneys is critical to determine who holds responsibility and ensure fair compensation. Staying safe on the road means driving cautiously, following the rules of the road, and properly maintaining your vehicle to avoid brake failure whenever possible.