Car insurance is legally required in California. Drivers who do not meet minimum levels of liability coverage can be ticketed, leading to hefty fines. Uninsured drivers can also be sued for any damages they may cause in a crash. There is also a lesser known serious consequence of driving without insurance. Uninsured drivers involved in a car accident through no fault of their own cannot be compensated for non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, unless the at-fault driver was under the influence. In practice, this rule severely limits the legal options available for uninsured drivers.
Proposition 213, The Personal Responsibility Act of 1996, was a ballot initiative that passed with 76.83 percent of the vote. Prop 213 prevents convicted felons from recovering damages suffered while committing or fleeing from the scene of a felony and drunk or uninsured drivers from seeking compensation for pain, suffering, and disfigurement. These restrictions do not apply to vehicle passengers. Prop 213 only provides an exception for uninsured motorists who are struck by drunk drivers. In 1997, Prop 213 was ruled constitutional by the California Second District Court of Appeals in the Yoshioka v Los Angeles Superior Court.
How does Prop 213 affect uninsured motorists who are not at fault in a car accident? Uninsured drivers may not be able to find contingency fee legal representation, and it may not even be in their financial interest. Without an attorney, it will be more difficult to receive medical treatment without out-of-pocket expenses. Uninsured drivers also have to deal with the insurance companies on their own, without an advocate on their side. Essentially, uninsured drivers are not able to take advantage of all the reasons to hire a car accident lawyer.
The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth strongly urges all drivers in California to at least meet minimum insurance requirements, but if possible, have a higher level of liability coverage. The higher the level of liability coverage you have, the more protection you have in the event of an unexpected accident. Liability insurance helps to protect everyone. We also recommend that all drivers carry uninsured motorist coverage at the highest amount possible. If you have been injured in a car accident, call us at 888-517-9888 for a free legal consultation.