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California’s Proposition 213 Explained

Prop 213 limits damages.
Prop 213 limits damages.

Proposition 213 was voted into law November 5, 1996 in the state of California by 76.83 percent of voters. The law became Civil Code Section 333.4, which places limits on non-economic damages with the exception of negligent drunk drivers if the driver is convicted. The law states in the event the innocent driver did not have liability automobile insurance, then he or she is not permitted to make a claim for non-economic damages. (View Source.)

Compensation in personal injury law is divided into two separate categories, economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages is compensation for actual expenses directly related to the accident such as medical costs, loss of wages and other out of pocket type of expenses. Non-economic damages are awarded for issues such as emotional stress, physical pain and suffering.

Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs when convicted or an uninsured driver are prohibited from bringing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for non-economic damages. Drivers who are fleeing the scene of a crime or committing a crime at the time of a collision and are convicted of a felony are banned from obtaining recovery of compensation for any losses or damages in a collision caused by another driver’s negligence.  On August 2, 1999 the California State Supreme Court ruled unanimously the rules of Proposition 213 does not limit uninsured drivers whose injuries were caused by a defect, rather than by a negligent driver.

Non-economic damages in personal injury law involve claims such as pain and suffering or disfigurement and other related damages that these specific drivers are not entitled to recover financial compensation. The non-economic damages often are equal or higher in compensation than economic damages, which the uninsured driver, driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol and the person in the commission of a crime are unable to seek damages.  The reasoning behind drivers who are breaking or violating other laws at the time of a crash even though another driver may be at-fault being barred from non-economic recovery is in part due to the swift increase in automobile insurance for drivers that do adhere to traffic laws.

This is a way of ensuring that uninsured, DUI drivers and anyone who may be involved in criminal actions are not rewarded from a law abiding citizen in a vehicle collision by limiting their right to bring a lawsuit. One of the original reasons behind this legislation was due to the number of uninsured drivers and weighed down the system. When a collision takes place since the inception of the law the drivers must show their proof of liability insurance at the time the mishap took place in order to obtain non-economic damages.

Passengers in uninsured vehicles are still able to recover full compensation and are not limited as the driver would be from collecting specific damages. This is not a new law and has been subjected to litigation involving the provisions in the regulations and has been upheld making it a law that will remain intact.

Sources:

Government of California: http://vote96.sos.ca.gov/BP/213text.htm

Limits of Liability: http://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_213,_Limit_on_Ability_of_Drunk_Drivers_and_Felons_to_Sue_for_Damages_%281996%29#See_also
http://articles.latimes.com/1999/aug/10/news/mn-64311

 

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