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“In 1996, California voters passed Prop. 213, the “no pay, no play” initiative. Under this law, uninsured drivers can not receive pain and suffering damages for injuries suffered in an auto accident caused by an insured driver; they can only receive actual damages, such as medical bills and lost wages.” (Source).It is a punishment passed by California voters. The general consensus is reckless or negligent drivers should not be able to obtain pain and suffering damages. But what if you did no wrong and the accident was the other driver’s fault? Prop 213 still stands. While this might seem unfair or unjust, it is the law. There have been a few attempts to overturn the law with no success. But wait, there are a few things that you can do to work around this unfortunate law, which was mainly created to benefit insurance companies and hurt trial lawyers. Before the passage of Prop 213, officially known as “The Personal Responsibility Act of 1996,” consumer watchdog Harvey Rosenfield and “Consumer Action” led the fight to enact Proposition 103, which rolled back outrageously expensive auto insurance rates, leading to a sequential analysis rate-setting process. As a result, the insurance industry worked hand in hand with its commercialized, corporate friends to take away consumer rights and bring in more insurance money such as:
“Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the California Police Chiefs Association, California Association of Highway Patrolman, Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau, California Peace Officers’ Association, Peace Officers Research Association of California, and the Association for California Tort Reform among others.” (Source).
3333.4. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (c), in any action to recover damages arising out of the operation or use of a motor vehicle, a person shall not recover non-economic losses to compensate for pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, and other nonpecuniary damages if any of the following applies: (1) The injured person was at the time of the accident operating the vehicle in violation of Section 23152 or 23153 of the Vehicle Code, and was convicted of that offense. (2) The injured person was the owner of a vehicle involved in the accident and the vehicle was not insured as required by the financial responsibility laws of this state. (3) The injured person was the operator of a vehicle involved in the accident and the operator can not establish his or her financial responsibility as required by the financial responsibility laws of this state. (b) Except as provided in subdivision (c), an insurer shall not be liable, directly or indirectly, under a policy of liability or uninsured motorist insurance to indemnify for non-economic losses of a person injured as described in subdivision (a). (c) In the event a person described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) was injured by a motorist who at the time of the accident was operating his or her vehicle in violation of Section 23152 or 23153 of the Vehicle Code, and was convicted of that offense, the injured person shall not be barred from recovering non-economic losses to compensate for pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, and other nonpecuniary damages. (Added November 5, 1996, by initiative Proposition 213, Sec. 3. Applicable, by Sec. 4 of Prop. 213, to actions in which the initial trial has not commenced prior to January 1, 1997. Note: Prop. 213 (The Personal Responsibility Act of 1996) also includes Section 3333.3.) [Emphasis added by author] (Source.)
As noted above, this section is not just about the failure to have auto insurance or a substitute like a bond. For example, if the injured person was guilty of violating “23152 or 23153 of the Vehicle Code,” no damages are available for pain and suffering. In short, these two sections deal with being wasted and driving.Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) provides, in short, that it remains a misdemeanor to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) provides that it remains a misdemeanor to drive with .08% or greater level of alcohol in the blood.
Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.