Understanding California’s Prop 213 for Uninsured Drivers

by Staff Blogger | December 4th, 2023

In California, Proposition 213 is critical legislation for uninsured drivers. This law was enacted in 1996 to address uninsured motorists and insurance fraud. It limits what you can claim in a car accident if you don’t have insurance. Specifically, Prop 213 says you can’t seek compensation for emotional pain or suffering after a crash, even if you are not at fault.

If you’re involved in a collision and don’t have insurance, speak with a California car accident attorney from Berg Injury Lawyers. We can help you understand how Prop 213 affects your potential settlement and protect your interests. 

What is Prop 213?

Prop 213 is a California law that affects what you can claim in a vehicle collision. It tightens the rules around uninsured drivers and those convicted of certain driving offenses.

In California, all drivers must carry a minimum amount of liability insurance to cover damages if they cause a car accident. If you don’t have insurance, Prop 213 sets clear boundaries on what damages you can receive if you are a crash victim.

Under the statute, you’re ineligible for non-material compensation if:

  • You were driving illegally under the state’s DUI laws (CVC 23152 and CVC 23153)  and were convicted
  • If you owned the involved car but didn’t have insurance
  • If you were driving and couldn’t prove you had the necessary financial coverage like insurance

Technically, the statute doesn’t stop you from seeking non-economic damages like emotional pain or suffering. However, it clarifies that insurance companies don’t have to pay for these types of losses if you fall under the conditions specified by the law.

How Does Prop 213 Affect Uninsured Drivers?

Understanding California’s Prop 213 is crucial for anyone driving without insurance in the state. This law has far-reaching implications, especially when it comes to what you can claim if you suffer serious injuries in a car accident.

  • Limits on claims. Under Prop 213, if you’re uninsured and involved in an accident, you’re restricted to claiming only economic damages like medical bills and car repairs.

For example, you’re uninsured and get rear-ended at a stoplight. Usually, the other driver is at fault, which would allow you to claim damages, including emotional distress. Under Prop 213, however, you can only seek a payout for monetary damage to your car and medical expenses.

  • No-fault exclusion. Prop 213 applies even if the other driver is entirely at fault. For example, another driver runs a red light and hits you, causing lasting emotional distress.

If you had insurance, you could claim non-economic damages against the person who hit you since they are liable under California’s at-fault insurance laws. Under Prop 213, you cannot claim these damages even though you didn’t cause the accident.

  • Comparative negligence. If both parties share some fault in the accident under the state’s pure comparative negligence doctrine, Prop 213 restrictions still apply to you.

For example, you and another driver are partially to blame for a crash. Even if you’re 10% at fault, you can’t claim non-economic damages, which reduces your overall compensation.

Exceptions to Prop 213

While imposing strict limits on uninsured drivers, Prop 213 does have some exceptions, including:

  • Passenger exception. Prop 213 does not apply to passengers, acknowledging their lack of control over the vehicle’s insurance status. Passengers of uninsured drivers can receive full compensation for injuries sustained in an accident as long as they are not the owner of the vehicle.
  • Intoxication. If you’re uninsured and get hit by someone driving under the influence, you can still claim non-economic damages as long as the other driver is convicted. This exception allows for more leeway in what you can claim when the other party is breaking the law by driving impaired.
  • Company-owned vehicles. If you’re driving a company car and your employer didn’t insure it, you can still claim damages for pain and suffering.
  • Innocent spouse. If you’re married and your spouse didn’t get insurance without your knowledge, you’re not barred from claiming non-economic damages.
  • Private property accidents. If the accident happens on private property, Prop 213’s restrictions on damages don’t apply. This means you can claim emotional pain and suffering even if you’re uninsured.
  • Borrowing an uninsured car. If you have your own insurance but borrow a car that’s not insured, you can still claim pain and suffering damages. This recognizes that you did your part by having insurance, even if the car you borrowed did not.

Challenges and Considerations for Accident Victims

While navigating the complexities of Proposition 213 and its exceptions, there are several things that California drivers may want to consider.

  • Seek legal counsel. To ensure you are receiving the compensation you rightfully deserve, seek legal counsel to understand your rights. The experienced California car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers can help you navigate the law and pursue any exceptions that may apply.
  • Gather evidence. Gather evidence like medical records, photos, witness testimony, and police reports after your crash. This can support your claim for economic damages or non-economic compensation if you qualify for an exception under Prop 213.
  • Plan for financial repercussions. Proposition 213 limits your potential compensation, which may result in additional financial stress. While you can get help with medical bills, you may need to consider low-cost or free alternatives to cope with the emotional consequences of your accident.
  • Be aware of future insurability. Getting into an accident under Prop 213 could make your future insurance more expensive or harder to get. Your best option is to obtain insurance before a collision to avoid long-term consequences.

Protect Your Right to Compensation

If you’re injured in an accident that’s not your fault, you deserve compensation. Although Prop 213 may limit what you’re entitled to in California, working with a qualified attorney can help maximize your compensation.

Our legal team at Berg Injury Lawyers knows how to handle insurance claims involving uninsured drivers. We can investigate the accident to determine if you are exempt from Prop 213’s restrictions or help you get the maximum compensation allowed based on your insurance status.

Contact us today for a free consultation. Let us protect your interests and work to get you a fair settlement.