California's Prop 213

California voters passed Proposition 213 in 1996 amid a heated and protracted legal battle through the courts that caused people on both sides of the issue to become entrenched in their positions and refuse to see the perspective on the other side.

In order to properly understand the long-term ramifications of this controversial piece of legislation, it helps to have a background in the economic climate that led to its passing. At the time Prop 213 came to exist, people throughout the state of California were more or less exasperated with the uninsured drivers on the roads of the state causing accidents that they could not compensate the people they affected through their negligence.

In order to counteract this situation, voters determined that people driving without insurance that were involved in a car accident that wasn’t their fault on California roads could no longer take legal action to recover non-economic damages against those that caused the injuries.

What are non-economic damages?

Non-economic damages are any damages that aren’t directly associated with medical bills, hospital stays, or the so-called “costs” associated with an accident injury. Things such as pain and suffering, lost wages and emotional distress fall under the umbrella term non-economic damage, because while they may most certainly exist, they can be difficult to prove in a court of law and generally consume a lot of time and money during litigation. That fact played an important role in the passing of Prop 213, as judicial expedience took precedence over justice.

This movement was an incredible departure from the normal sense of just compensation, and the law failed to account for people who had lapses in insurance due to conditions beyond their control or knowing. The law did still allow people who were passengers in the uninsured car to collect non-economic damages during litigation, provided they could demonstrate that they did not own the car in question.

An additional proviso also allowed uninsured motorists to collect non-economic damages against the person who caused the accident if during the course of the investigation law enforcement discovers the other party was under the influence of drugs or alcohol and it’s proven in a court of law. This ruling also affects the passengers in the victim’s car as well.

What does Prop 213 Mean to you?

What this means for you and your personal injury car accident attorney is that you need to be aware of this law and how it affects your situation. Without a proper understanding of this complex law and how it affects your case, you could significantly imperil a reasonable and just outcome for your claim.

Talk with your car accident lawyer, and be sure to be open and honest during your communication.

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