“I can slam on my brakes and sue you.”

I recently received a comment to a blog post where the writer quoted the bumper sticker “I can slam on my brakes and sue you.” In this post is my response:

Misunderstanding of Tort Law. As the great jurisprudential scholar Oliver Wendell Homes says: “The law should make common sense.” Well it does when we legally analyze the slam on my brakes and sue you statement.  In this situation the brake slammer loses the lawsuit. The law does not provide an automatic recovery to one who is rear ended. In fact under tort law a person who slams on her brakes for no reason (except to bring a lawsuit) loses and is responsible for the damage to the following driver. On top of this the brake slammer will not be covered by her insurance. This is because auto insurance insures against negligence not against an intentional wrong.

Force of a Rear End Collision. The writer of the comment fails to recognize the force and resulting injury potential in a rear end collision. A rear end collision can cause serious injury to both drivers. All of my clients in rear end collisions would  give back their recovery in exchange for their pre-injury condition. Added to this is the moral issue of intentionally causing a collision, in a misguided attempt to abuse the law, and causing injury or damage to an innocent fellow human being.

 Some People Actually Believe This. As a personal injury lawyer trying automobile collision injury cases to juries it is important for me to recognize there are people who believe the statement of our comment writer. In my next jury trial I will ask potential jurors if any agree with “I can slam on my brakes and sue you.” This will allow me to identify jurors who believe most lawsuits are a meritless attempt to get money. Once identified I will go into the thought process with the potential juror  which may lead to a successful challenge for cause. “Given your feeling that personal injury lawsuits are often meritless, do you agree it will be fairer for plaintiff if you sit on a jury in a different type of case?” If challenge for cause does not work then a peremptory challenge will have to be used.

Happy and Sad. I am happy to have seen and thought about the slam on my brakes comment as it will allow me to better engage during  jury selection. I am sad a person may actually think and believe this. No competent personal lawyer would represent such a person.  First, the brake slammer is liable in tort. Second, there will be no insurance coverage to pay as automobile insurance covers negligence not intentional tort. Third, there is no consideration for the other guy who is injured/damaged because of a misguided attempt  to abuse the law. Finally, the brake slammer could and should face criminal charges for vehicular assault which means jail time.

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37 Responses to ““I can slam on my brakes and sue you.””

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