If you drive an automobile in California, the law requires you to be an insured driver. Breaking the law in this respect can have profound implications for uninsured drivers.
If you drive in California without carrying the required auto insurance, you will only be able to recover limited damages if you are injured in a car accident, regardless of fault.
California’s Financial Responsibility Law
To understand California’s Proposition 213, you must first understand the state’s compulsory auto insurance requirements under its Financial Responsibility Law (California Vehicle Code §§16000-16078). This law requires all drivers to carry at least the following amounts of liability coverage:
- $15,000 for injury or death to one person;
- $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person; and
- $5,000 for property damage
Otherwise, a driver must deposit $35,000 in cash with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), obtain a certificate of self-insurance from the DMV, or purchase a $35,000 surety bond from an issuer who is licensed by the state.
The purpose of this law is to ensure that everyone who drives or owns a vehicle in California, will be financially responsible for any injury, death, or property damage they cause while driving, regardless of fault, as well as to discourage financially irresponsible drivers from driving on California roads and highways.
California’s Financial Responsibility law applies to anyone who drives a motor vehicle in California, whether they own the vehicle or not, or anyone who owns a motor vehicle, even if they do not drive the vehicle themselves, but permit others to drive it.
What is California’s Proposition 213?
California passed Proposition 213 (Cal. Civ. Code § 3333.4) in 1996. Under this law, if you are injured in an accident anywhere in California, and you are not insured as required under California’s compulsory Financial Responsibility Law, the compensation you can recover for damages resulting from an accident is limited.
Proposition 213 states that an uninsured driver cannot recover any compensation for non-economic damages resulting from an accident, even if the other driver was completely at fault. An uninsured driver can only recover compensation for economic damages.
This can have a profound impact on your car accident claim, since compensation for non-economic damages often greatly exceeds the compensation awarded for economic damages in a car accident claim. Because of this, being on the wrong side of Proposition 213 can cost you a lot of money in compensation that you would otherwise be entitled to receive.
Economic vs. Non-economic Damages
There are generally two types of damages available to be recovered in a car accident claim:
- Economic Damages
- Non-economic Damages
Economic damages are fairly easy to understand. Ordinarily, if you have been injured in an accident, you are entitled to recover compensation for your medical expenses, income lost due to time missed from work, and the cost to repair or replace your vehicle. Any losses that you can express in exact dollars and cents are economic damages.
Economic damages are easy to determine. You know exactly how much the hospital charged you, how much it cost to repair or replace your vehicle, and you can add up how much income you lost from being off work.
You are also entitled to recover compensation for non-economic damages suffered as a result of a car accident. This includes compensation for physical pain and mental anguish, physical disfigurement, and for any resulting physical impairment. Certain loved ones, like your spouse, can even recover compensation for mental anguish they personally suffered because you were injured.
Non-economic damages are losses upon which it is difficult to put a precise dollar and cents value. Two different juries might award a different amount of compensation for the same non-economic loss, and neither one would be wrong.
Exceptions to California’s Proposition 213
Like most other laws, there are a few exceptions to California’s Proposition 213. The law does not apply when:
- The vehicle belongs to your employer.
- The accident happened on private property.
- The other driver was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- The vehicle’s owner does not have insurance, but you do have insurance on another vehicle. In which case, you will be entitled to full damages.
Furthermore, Proposition 213 does not apply to passengers, only to uninsured drivers, regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
But to truly know whether Proposition 213 or any of its exceptions apply to your California car accident, you should contact a qualified personal injury attorney, like the ones at eAccidents to discuss your case. Call our offices at 844-400-0123 or contact us via our contact page to schedule a free consultation with an experienced California personal injury attorney.