California has many laws that impact an injured person’s right to recover compensation for their damages. However, many people are not aware of Proposition 213 and how it could impact their car accident claims.
What is Proposition 213?
Proposition 213 was passed in 1996. Many organizations spent money and time supporting the proposed law, including the insurance industry. Prop 213 prevents you from receiving compensation for non-economic damages if you are uninsured.
The law was codified under California Civil Code §3333.4. According to the code section, a person cannot recover non-economic losses if any of the following conditions apply:
- The injured person was operating a vehicle in violation of Sections 23152 or 23153 of the Vehicle Code (driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs)
- The injured person is the owner of a vehicle involved in the accident that does not have the required insurance
- The injured person was the operator of a vehicle involved in the accident and cannot prove their financial responsibility as required by law
The code does contain a significant exception to the rule. Suppose the uninsured person was injured by a drunk driver who was convicted of DUI. In that case, the injured person is not barred from recovering non-economic damages even though they are uninsured.
Other exceptions to Prop 213 include:
- You were driving an employer’s uninsured vehicle
- There was a roadway defect that led to the car accident
- You were the passenger of an uninsured vehicle (in most cases)
- The accident resulted in a wrongful death
- You borrowed an uninsured vehicle, but you have insurance on your vehicle
- The accident occurred on private property
- A vehicle defect led to the cause of the car accident
An insurance company is not liable under a liability insurance policy or an uninsured motorist insurance policy to compensate an injured person if they are uninsured unless they fall within an exemption to the law.
California Insurance Requirements to Avoid a Prop 213 Problem
California requires all drivers to provide proof of their financial responsibility in case of an accident that they cause. Acceptable types of financial responsibility for California drivers include:
- An automobile liability insurance policy
- A self-insurance certificate issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
- A cash deposit of $35,000 with the DMV
- A surety bond for $35,000 with a company licensed to conduct business in California
If you choose to purchase a car insurance policy, the minimum amounts for liability insurance are:
- $15,000 for bodily injury to one person in an accident
- $30,000 for bodily injury to more than one person per accident
- $5,000 for property damage claims
Liability insurance pays damages to the injured victims of an accident caused by the insured driver. In addition, drivers may purchase optional insurance coverage, including uninsured motorist coverage, collision coverage, and underinsured motorist coverage.
What Types of Damages Could I Receive if Proposition 213 Applies to Me?
You are not barred from seeking any compensation after a car accident that was not your fault if you are an uninsured driver. You can still file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for your economic damages, such as:
- Past and future medical bills and cost of treatment
- Long-term nursing care and personal care
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Medications, medical devices, and medical supplies
- Past and future lost wages and benefits
- Decreases in your future earning capacity
- Property damage claims
However, being an uninsured driver will likely prevent you from seeking compensation for non-economic damages or “pain and suffering.” Those damages include disfigurement, permanent impairments, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and diminished quality of life.
For some accident victims, the amount of non-economic damages may be a significant portion of their total damages. Therefore, losing the right to recover compensation for these damages could be devastating.
Are Punitive Damages Included in Proposition 213?
Punitive damages do not compensate you for any losses. Instead, these damages are awarded to “punish” an at-fault party for gross negligence or intentional acts that injure another party. A jury awards punitive damages in a small number of personal injury cases.
If punitive damages apply in your case, Prop 213 will not prevent you from receiving these damages. The damages are intended to deter the defendant and other parties from repeating the same behavior that led to the accident.
If you are uninsured, talk to a car accident attorney in Los Angeles, CA, before giving up hope that you cannot recover non-economic damages for a car crash. You could fall into one of the exceptions that allow you to recover these damages, even though you did not have auto insurance at the time of the car accident.
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA
If you were injured in an accident in Los Angeles, CA or you lost a loved one and you need legal assistance, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. One of our Los Angeles car accident lawyers at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers will get in touch with you soon.