Since 1996, California’s Proposition 213 has changed the state’s insurance standards for drivers and passengers involved in accidents. Prop 213 is a law that affects California motorists uniquely.
Its nuances (like lane splitting in California) just may just be the difference between whether the victim of a crash is covered for pain and suffering caused by a neglectful driver.
What does the law say?
Essentially, Prop 213 keeps drivers who are uninsured, have DUIs, or are in the act of committing or fleeing from felony crime from suing for certain non-economic damages after a car accident. However, It doesn’t keep a driver from suing for reimbursement for definable economic damages if someone else was at fault. And, uninsured drivers can expect compensation for medical bills, lost time at work, or vehicle damages.
Furthermore, the law applies to drivers of uninsured cars, regardless of whether the driver believed that a vehicle was (usually because someone claimed it was), and anyone driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
What are non-economic damages?
Non-economic damages are anything the law says cannot be quantified monetarily: in other words, these are damages one can’t put a price on. They include pain and suffering, inconvenience, emotional distress, mental distress, disfigurement, physical disability, and impairment.
In the past, the law has clarified that it is impossible to put an exact price on these types of damages, nor is it possible to fully compensate for them with money.
What is the purpose of the law?
The law was passed to further encourage California motorists to get insured before getting behind the wheel. It’s designed to protect citizens from those who refuse to obey the laws of the road.
According to the law, those who refuse to protect others from their own negligence by refusing to get insurance, by driving under the influence, or by committing felonies do not deserve full protection from the negligence of others. While the law has been challenged, it’s never been overturned.
Are there any exceptions to the law?
There are a few exceptions to Prop 213 that allow a driver to collect non-economic damages even without insurance, such as if a driver’s vehicle belonged to an employer or if the accident occurs on private property. A driver is also exempted if they have insurance on another car but were borrowing an uninsured car at the time of the accident.
What to do if you are in an accident
Even if Prop 213 applies to you, it does not cancel your rights to be compensated for medical bills, property damage, lost wages, or any other verifiable economic losses you have suffered.
Whether you have insurance or not, if you are in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you should seek legal advice. Only a lawyer with experience will be able to help you fully understand your rights.