PROPOSITION 213 AND UNINSURED MOTORISTS

A perennial dilemma for states has been how to handle the many who fail to abide by the law and carry basic automobile liability insurance. Voters in California answered this problem in 1996 by passing Proposition 213.

THE PROBLEM OF UNINSURED MOTORISTS

While California law requires drivers to carry liability insurance, all too many individuals simply refuse to do so. One method of ensuring that motorists honor the law is to require proof of insurance at the time of yearly vehicle registration. Non-compliant drivers, however, often either do not register their vehicles or obtain insurance for just enough time to allow for registration, then drop the policy. The result is that these drivers have no means of paying for damage to vehicles or injuries to victims if their negligence causes a traffic accident. The cost then gets passed on to those who comply with insurance laws when they obtain optional uninsured motorist coverage.

Prop 213 was designed as a means of preventing uninsured motorists from gaining compensation for some forms of injury in case they fall victim in an accident. The proposition includes two provisions: the first disallows compensation when the uninsured driver is injured while committing a felony; the second, which has a more common impact, prevents injured uninsured motorists from receiving what are termed general damages.

If you were injured in an accident, you might be able to recover for your injuries. Call 1-800-722-0765 now to speak with one of our car accident attorneys, who can advise you of your right to compensation.

ECONOMIC VS. GENERAL DAMAGES

A person who suffers injury in a motor vehicle accident caused by another’s negligence can gain two types of compensation:

  • Economic Damages. Such damages include the cost of current and future medical bills, lost income during recovery, damage to the vehicle and other monetary costs.
  • General Damages. These damages are associated with losses related to quality of life. Pain and suffering, scarring, loss of consortium, and diminishment of ability to engage in daily activities fall into this category.

It is worth noting that since general damages are not based on objective losses, such as those reflected in actual bills, they are usually more difficult to negotiate. However, when one hears of personal injury cases where the victim is awarded a large settlement, often the lion’s share of compensation is for general damages.

Prop 213, then, prevents a person who is uninsured, but injured in an accident through no fault of his own from receiving compensation for general damages. Economic damages are still recoverable. The one exception to this provision relates to driving under the influence. If the negligent driver is convicted of a DUI, the uninsured victim can collect both economic and general damages.

Prop 213 was met with a significant amount of disagreement and controversy when it was voted into law. However, its purpose is to punish and/or deter would be uninsured motorists.

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