Unless someone closely follows the intricacies of California law, they may not know what Proposition 213, aka Prop 213, is all about. Normally, knowledge of that proposition is not important but it can soon become so if someone gets into a car crash. The reason is that Proposition 213 has a direct impact on whether an individual can collect non-economic damages for a car accident.
Anyone who has been in a car accident in San Diego may not know if Prop 213 applies to them or how it would affect them if it does. That is why they should hire an attorney to sort out the situation for them. At Injury Trial Lawyers, we can help anyone who has been in a car accident whether Prop 213 applies to their case or not. If it does, then we can help them with their personal injury claim regardless. So be sure to contact us at Injury Trial Lawyers if you have been in a car accident.
What is Proposition 213?
Proposition 213—aka the Personal Responsibility Act of 1996—is a law that restricts uninsured drivers from collecting non-economic damages from car accidents even if the uninsured driver was not at fault. Basically, this law means that uninsured drivers cannot get damages for pain and suffering or any other kinds of damages that cannot be measured financially.
Usually, when a driver gets into a car accident that was not their fault, they will be able to collect damages to take care of their medical bills, repair bills, and other measurable financial expenses. They will also be able to collect damages for non-economic damages like pain and suffering. Under Prop 213, uninsured drivers cannot get non-economic damages even if they were not responsible for causing the car accident. Another situation where Prop 213 applies is if a driver got into an accident after committing a felony; they cannot collect non-economic damages even if they were insured and the accident was not their fault.
Prop 213 is meant to incentivize California drivers to get auto insurance but it was lobbied for by insurance companies as a way of saving them money. Since they no longer have to pay non-economic damages to uninsured drivers they are able to save billions of dollars annually. However, many people believe that the law is unjust and serves more as a punishment for the uninsured rather than as an incentive to get insurance.
Exceptions to Prop 213
There are some exceptions to Prop 213 that can allow someone to collect non-economic damages in the event of a car crash. They are as follows:
- Drivers who were unaware that the vehicle they were driving was uninsured
- Passengers who were in the uninsured vehicle at the time of the crash
- Accidents that were caused by a drunk driver
- Accidents that resulted in the death of the driver. Their family can file a wrongful death claim that includes non-economic damages
- People who drove a company car that was not insured by their employer
- Accidents that happened on private property
If a driver was involved in any of the situations mentioned above, then Prop 213 does not apply to them and they are eligible for non-economic damages.
Why Are Non-Economic Damages Important?
When a person suffers a personal injury, they are entitled to receive compensation to cover their financial losses such as the cost of medical bills, repair or replacement costs for damaged property, lost wages due to being unable to work, and so on. They are also eligible for non-economic damages that cover intangible damages like pain and suffering, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), mental anguish, disfigurement or scarring, and disability.
Since these damages are not measurable, they are calculated by using a multiplier of the economic damages. The multiplier differs based on the insurance company but it is usually between two to five times the amount of the economic damages. That means the bulk of the compensation in car accidents and other personal injury cases comes from the non-economic damages.
So anyone who is denied those damages via Prop 213 is losing a large amount of the compensation that they are owed. This can have several consequences for that person, the main one is that they will receive a lot less money than they are owed. Another is that many attorneys will not choose to represent someone to whom Prop 213 applies.
The reason is that many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means that they do not get paid unless the case is successful, in which case they take a percentage of their client’s settlement amount. If Prop 213 applies to someone, then a lawyer may decline to represent them because, even if they win the case, they may receive a lower contingency fee for their efforts.
Since an attorney is often necessary to get compensation after a car accident, this puts uninsured drivers in a double bind as they are unable to get the full compensation they are owed and might not be able to hire a lawyer to get any compensation at all.
The Fairness of Prop 213
While many would agree that driving without insurance is irresponsible, others would also argue that Prop 213 unduly punishes those drivers. The reason is that a person’s auto insurance status does not have any bearing on a car accident. And if that car accident was not their fault, then their lack of insurance can seem like an unnecessary punishment. This is especially egregious if the driver did have car insurance but it lapsed before the accident occurred. Drivers who were unaware that their car insurance lapsed would be unduly punished for their oversight.
We Can Help Those Who Are Affected By Prop 213
If you have been in a car accident and Prop 213 applies to you, then the situation might feel hopeless, but there is still hope. At Injury Trial Lawyers we will represent drivers affected by Prop 213. We can help to maximize the economic damages that they are eligible for so that their tangible expenses are well taken care of. Also, people to whom Prop 213 applies may not be able to collect non-economic damages, but they can still get punitive damages.
Those are damages meant to punish the at-fault driver if their behavior was especially reckless and dangerous. We will find out if punitive damages apply to your case and fight to get them for you if they do. So don’t give up hope if you have been in a car accident in San Diego and Prop 213 applies to you; contact us at Injury Trial Lawyers and we will do all that we can to help you get fairly compensated.