If you are wounded in a car accident in California due to another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Additionally, if you were driving an uninsured automobile and you were hurt, your ability to claim damages may be limited.
This is due to a California regulation limiting uninsured motorists’ ability to seek damages for non-economic losses. There are several exceptions to this law, which prevents uninsured individuals from claiming damages they are usually entitled to receive or acquire.
However, if you’re an out-of-state driver in California, and you get into an accident, it may be more complicated than you think. There may be a way for you to avoid the hefty consequences of Proposition 213 if you act quickly.
A qualified attorney can help you comply with California’s Financial Responsibility statute after an accident, depending on when the accident occurred. Our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers are experienced in this area of law.
What Is Proposition 213? – Hint: It Has to Do With Having Auto Insurance Following a Car Accident
Proposition 213 may be unfamiliar to you, yet it has been in effect for quite some time. It’s officially recognized as “The Personal Responsibility Act of 1996” in California law.
The stated aims of California Proposition 213 are as follows:
It begins by stating that uninsured motorists, intoxicated drivers, and convicts should not be rewarded for disobeying the law. The proposal brought attention to “lawbreakers,” claiming damages from law-abiding persons for injuries committed before the law was passed.
This also encouraged California residents to amend the legislation to prevent others from claiming “unreasonable damages” from law-abiding citizens. The public appeals were evidently successful, as the proposition was adopted.
In essence, Proposition 213 limits the number of damages a person can collect if they don’t have insurance on the car they were driving at the time of the accident.
The person in issue can still claim for damages, but there are limitations on what they can claim for. This proposal effectively means that insured people can claim more money than uninsured people.
Before the passage of Proposition 213, consumer advocate Harvey Rosenfield and his group “Consumer Action” led the charge to pass Proposition 103, which rolled back high car insurance rates and established a sequential analysis rate-setting process.
As a result, the insurance sector collaborated with its commercialized corporate allies to strip consumers of their rights in order to increase insurance profits, such as:
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
- California Association of Highway Patrolman
- California Police Chiefs Association
- Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau
- Peace Officers Research Association of California
- California Peace Officers’ Association.
Association for California Tort Reform If You’re Uninsured in California, Then Proposition 213 Applies to You
In rare situations, a driver may be unaware that the motor vehicle he or she was driving was uninsured. Additionally, he or she may be an out-of-state driver and not covered by insurance in California. Even if an exception does not apply to you, Proposition 213 does not bar you from claiming damages, You can still pursue prior and future medical expenses, lost earnings, and other out-of-pocket financial losses if your accident was caused by another driver’s negligence.
Proposition 213 does have some exclusions, however, including the following:
- Passengers in uninsured automobiles who do not own the uninsured vehicle are not covered under Prop 213
- Prop 213 does not cover those who drive company cars if their employers failed to insure the vehicles
- Prop. 213 does not cover people who die as a result of their accidents
- Prop. 213 does not protect uninsured motorists who are harmed in collisions caused by drunk driving
- Accidents that occur on private property are not covered by Proposition 213
- Punitive damages are not prohibited by Proposition 213
- When the driver of the vehicle has insurance on another vehicle, but the vehicle involved in the collision is uninsured and owned by someone else, Prop. 213 cannot apply.
If Proposition 213 applies to your situation, a competent personal injury attorney can help you obtain damages for all of your financial losses, even if you are barred from recovering damages for non-economic losses. This is why, if you were involved in a collision while uninsured that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you should consult with a professional car accident attorney.
When Does Proposition 213 Apply?
We’ve demonstrated that if you always have auto insurance, and you are the only passenger in the vehicle, Prop 213 is nothing to be concerned about. Now, when should you be concerned about the proposition affecting you? This is something to bear in mind if you’re traveling with an uninsured automobile.
It’s worth noting that driving without insurance is already banned in California. If you are ever in the unfortunate situation of being in an accident, you should expect to exchange insurance information with your fellow driver.
Without insurance, you and your partner are in a difficult scenario, which is something that Prop 213 and other legislations are aiming to prevent.
What Happens When Proposition 213 Takes Effect?
If Proposition 213 applies to your situation, as previously stated, there are limitations on the amount of money you can sue for. To be more exact, you may only be able to sue for economic damages under the law
The law was enacted because many people believed that if a driver did not take precautions to protect themself from negligence (such as having insurance), they should not be able to recover damages from others. Multiple advertising supporting the initiative featured the phrase: “no pay, no play.”
An uninsured intoxicated driver, for instance, collides with the motor vehicle in front of him. Because the intoxicated driver had no insurance, the front automobile may be unable to recover any compensation for injuries until the law is passed.
The intoxicated driver, on the other hand, might be able to get some money from the front automobile. Many California voters thought this was unfair, and the rule was enacted as a punishment to urge drivers to get car insurance.
Insurance companies and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) pushed the proposal, spending millions of dollars on advertising to persuade voters to vote ‘yes.’ Following its approval, the number of drivers who purchased insurance increased dramatically.
Unfortunately, individuals who were affected by Proposition 213 were those who had insurance but had failed to renew it for a few days. Drivers who had suffered major medical injuries with long-term consequences and needed pain and suffering compensation were also victims of this scheme.
What Compensation Is Affected by Prop 213? Lost Wages? Private Property Cost?
In a car accident, Prop 213 solely limits compensation for non-economic damages. Damages for pain and suffering, disfigurement, physical impairment, inconvenience, and mental or emotional distress might all fall under this category.
It’s worth noting that accident victims who were harmed by Proposition 213 are still entitled to financial compensation. Repairs to damaged automobiles or other private property, medical bills, lost wages due to time away from work, and costs of rehabilitation to return to work are all covered. Prop 213 solely has an influence on non-economic compensation.
What Are Economic Damages?
Throughout this piece, we’ve discussed both economic and non-economic damages. This is the perfect opportunity to go over them more thoroughly. Starting with economic damages, they are the monetary compensation you may be entitled to as a result of measurable losses. They’re also referred to as “specific damages” on occasion.
When we talk about economic damages, we’re talking about things like medical bills. Physical treatment may be included in those expenses. Uninsured drivers must also compensate for the costs of seeing a therapist because of the mental and emotional damage that they suffered from the accident.
Medical expenses for the long-term effects of your injury may also be factored into the calculations.
Economic damages are compensation for possible property damage in addition to medical expenses. The person who caused the accident is responsible for the damage to your car as well as any other private property that was damaged in the process.
Your lost wages are included in the financial damages. If you were seriously injured in the accident, you would most likely be unable to work. That can be covered by the monetary damages. When estimating economic damages, the law can also take into account your earning potential. Experts do these calculations to find out how much money you lost due to your injuries.
What Are Non-Economic Damages?
As you may have guessed, the non-economic damages account for losses that cannot be measured. Pain and suffering damages are two common examples of non-economic damages. These damages include things like disabilities, deformity, and mental anguish.
A plaintiff may also claim that the accident resulted in a loss of enjoyment of life in some situations. You may also claim non-economic damages because of the loss of companionship.
Calculating non-economic damages in a lawsuit is a little more difficult because there are no tangible money figures to refer to. In practice, the non-economic damages awarded in a case are proportional to the economic damages awarded. In addition, laws set a limit on the amount of non-economic damages that can be awarded.
It’s worth repeating that Prop 213 prohibits uninsured drivers from claiming non-economic damages unless they meet one of the above mentioned exceptions.
Who Led the Opposition to Proposition 213?
Above all, the founders of the Proposition 103 Enforcement Project, which we covered before, were against Prop 213. The California Trial Lawyers Association and “United Policyholders” were also against Prop 213.
After several years, in 1998, the insurance industry’s surrogate, California Insurance Commissioner Quackenbush, acknowledged Mercury Insurance’s assertion that 213 decreased insurance premiums by $71 million as a reality (many believe Mercury Insurance Company to be one of the most dishonest and unfair vehicle insurers).
Conversely, Mercury appeared to have lowered its auto insurance prices by “20% for uninsured motor insurance and 15% for bodily injury coverage.”
Why Do People Drive Without Car Insurance?
Ignoring the requirement is unwise, given all the possible repercussions of driving without insurance. Despite this, people continue to drive without insurance on a regular basis. The following are possible reasons why they continue to do so:
Owning a car is an absolute need. A trip that should take 15 to 20 minutes can easily take an hour if you don’t have a car. People who understand how difficult commuting is can take out loans to buy a car, but they don’t insure the car because they cannot afford it.
Obviously, this isn’t a good enough reason to drive without insurance. However, it does represent the reality that proper legal liability coverage is a necessity many people cannot afford.
If you’re short on funds, there’s no certainty that you can get a suitable insurance plan. The good news is that many agencies are willing to collaborate with drivers to find the best options for them.
Another reason someone might be driving around without insurance is if they are unaware that they’re not covered. You may have overlooked the deadline for your insurance payment due to your recent busy schedule. The policy has now expired, and you’re on the road with no security.
Unfortunately, it’s possible that you don’t know your coverage has run out until it’s too late. It’s possible that you don’t notice your error until you exchange insurance information with another driver.
Always set up reminders to check your insurance so that you avoid making a costly error. You can also choose to set up automated payments if you’re comfortable with it.
Overconfidence in One’s Driving Ability
Some may refuse to get insurance coverage because they believe that they don’t need it. Some assume that if they are skilled enough behind the wheel, they can avoid any car accident on the road.
While experienced drivers have a better chance of avoiding collisions, it’s still possible that another motorist on the road can cause an auto accident. You never know how other drivers might react around you, so make sure you’re insured by buying auto insurance.
Lack of Understanding
It’s possible that not everyone is aware that the law requires auto insurance. This is not a good excuse in court, but it might work in some situations.
Some drivers may also refuse to purchase insurance because they don’t understand how it can benefit them. Educating people on the importance of insurance can persuade them to change their minds.
Should I File a Personal Injury Case If I’m Not Insured?
Just because you were an uninsured driver, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to compensation if you were hurt in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence.
Even if Prop 213 does not apply to you, you do have a claim for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other economic losses caused by another person’s negligence.
If you need an excellent representative for your personal injury claim or legal advice on financial responsibility laws in California, contact the Ehline law firm at 213-596-9642 to set up a free consultation with an award-winning injury lawyer. Speak with a serious injury lawyer today.
Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.
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