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What do California Drivers Need to Know About Proposition 213?

Los-Angeles-Car-Accident-LawyerIf you are injured in a motor vehicle accident in California that results from the negligence of another driver, you may be entitled to recover damages for your losses. However, your ability to recover damages may be limited if you were driving an uninsured vehicle when you were injured. This is because of a California law that limits the ability of uninsured motorists to recover damages for their non-economic losses. While this law prevents people who do not have insurance from recovering all of the damages to which they would otherwise be entitled to receive, there are multiple exceptions. Getting help from an experienced accident attorney in Los Angeles may help you to recover fair compensation for your losses.

What is Proposition 213?

Proposition 213 is a law that was passed in 1996 in California. The insurance industry spent millions of dollars lobbying for this law to be passed. Insurance companies have been able to enjoy billions of dollars of added profits by avoiding paying non-economic damages to injured drivers who were driving uninsured vehicles at the time of their collisions. Proposition 213 is codified at Cal. Civ. Code § 3333.4, which reads as follows:

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.”

Under §3333.4(a)(1)-(3), this law states that people who are injured in accidents will not be able to recover damages for their non-economic losses, including pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, and others when one of the following situations applies:

  • The injured driver was driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
  • The person who was injured owned an uninsured vehicle that was involved in the accident.
  • The injured person was the driver of the vehicle and cannot prove that he or she has complied with the financial responsibility requirements of the state.

Proposition 213 does not apply if the vehicle that you were driving was insured at the time of your accident. This means that you would be able to recover damages for your non-economic losses. If you were the passenger of the uninsured vehicle who was injured in an accident, proposition 213 will not apply to you as long as you did not own the uninsured vehicle. You will be entitled to recover damages for your economic and non-economic losses.

If you were driving an uninsured vehicle in an accident that was caused by someone else, there are some exceptions to Proposition 213 that might allow you to recover full damages for your losses.

Exceptions to Proposition 213

There are some cases in which a driver might not realize that the vehicle that he or she was driving was not covered by insurance. Even if an exception does not apply to you, Proposition 213 does not prevent you from recovering damages for your past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, and your other out-of-pocket pecuniary losses when your accident was caused by the negligence of another driver. There are also certain exceptions to Proposition 213, including the following:

  • Passengers of uninsured vehicles are not covered by Prop 213 if they do not own the uninsured vehicle.
  • People who are driving company cars are not covered by Prop 213 when their employers failed to insure the vehicles.
  • People whose accidents result in deaths are not covered by Prop. 213.
  • Uninsured motorists who are injured in accidents that were caused by drunk drivers are not covered by Prop. 213.
  • Proposition 213 does not apply to accidents that happen on private property.
  • Proposition 213 does not prevent the recovery of punitive damages.
  • Prop. 213 will not apply when the driver of the vehicle had insurance on a different car, but the vehicle involved in the accident was uninsured and owned by someone else.

If Proposition 213 does apply in your case, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you to recover damages for all of your economic losses even though you might be prevented from recovering damages for your non-economic losses. This makes it important for you to consult with an experienced car accident attorney if you were involved in an accident while uninsured that was caused by the negligence of someone else.

Why non-economic damages are important to the value of a car accident claim

In a personal injury case, there are two primary types of damages, including economic or special damages and non-economic or general damages. The special damages are monetary awards to compensate you for your actual out-of-pocket expenses and include your medical expenses, income losses, and property losses. The bulk of damages that are normally awarded in personal injury claims is formed by your non-economic or general damages. These damages are designed to compensate you for more intangible losses, including the following:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Disability
  • Emotional or mental anguish

These damages are calculated by multiplying the value of your medical expenses by a factor that ranges from one to five. If you suffer serious injuries, a higher factor will be used. Because of this, your non-economic damages may far exceed your pecuniary losses. Because of the extensive investigation and work that is required to build a strong injury claim, many personal injury lawyers will not agree to accept a case in which Proposition 213 applies because the costs involved might be greater than the amount that can be recovered. An injury attorney can review your case to see if an exception might apply in your case and explain the options that you might have.

Contact the Steven M. Sweat Personal Injury Lawyers

If you were injured in an accident because of the negligence of another driver when your vehicle was not insured, you should talk to an attorney to figure out whether an exception might apply. A lawyer at the Steven M. Sweat Personal Injury Lawyers will explore all of the avenues of recovery that might be available to you. Contact us today for a free consultation by calling 866.966.5240.

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