Enacted in 1996, Proposition 213 limits the entitlement of those who are injured in an auto-accident to economic damages alone… if the injured driver was not carrying automobile liability insurance at the time of the accident.
Typically, those drivers who have valid insurance and are injured in an automobile accident are entitled to recover both economic damages as well as non-economic damages. If you are a passenger in a vehicle with a driver that is uninsured, this law does not affect or apply to you.
What are economic damages? They are easy to calculate because they are costs that have been incurred or have yet to be incurred. These include medical expenses both past and future, lost wages or loss of income, property damage, towing, rental and more.
Non-economic damages typically include pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of use, disability, and mental anguish, or impaired quality of life. These damages are harder to calculate as they are less evident and may require expert testimony and assessment to prove.
If you are the driver of an uninsured vehicle, and you are involved in an accident that is not your fault, then you will not be able to collect non-economic damages.
Exceptions and Exemptions To Prop 213
Luckily, California law does provide exceptions for the recovery of non-economic damages for those without valid insurance.
If the at-fault driver was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (i.e. DUI), then the injured driver may be entitled to non-economic damages regardless of whether he or she had auto insurance at the time of the accident.
If the injured party is a passenger of the non-insured vehicle, then the passenger may also be entitled to non-economic damages even if the non-insured driver is exempt.
In either case, it is important to retain the services of a personal injury attorney to fight for your rights.
How Necessary is Auto Insurance?
The bottom-line for drivers: Make sure the vehicles you drive have valid insurance. You don’t want to be the victim of an auto accident and find you can’t collect for continuing impairments to your mental, physical and financial health.