California Proposition 213 is a law that applies to drivers involved in automobile accidents and was passed to prevent operating vehicles without valid car insurance or driving cars that are not insured (meaning you were not insured to drive that particular vehicle). If Prop 213 applies to you, then you cannot recover money damages (even if you were not at fault for the accident) for pain and suffering.
It is a consideration every law firm or attorney makes when evaluating your lawsuit. It is also considered by the insurance adjuster reviewing your claim when they receive a demand from your attorney. Often times, attorneys refer to their clients who are subject to this law as “Prop Clients.”
Prop 213 does NOT apply if:
1. You were a passenger in the car involved in the accident.
2. The vehicle you were driving was covered by insurance.
3. The driver was driving his employer’s vehicle (which was uninsured).
4. The incident occurred on private property.
5. The registered owner of the vehicle lacked insurance, but the driver who borrowed the vehicle had his own insurance on another car. This driver would be fully entitled to recover damages for pain and suffering since he had his own insurance to protect himself.
How California Proposition 213 Affects Your Lawsuit
In the eyes of the law, if you violate California Proposition 213 then you are not entitled to pain and suffering (which is referred to as “general damages” when settling with the insurance company), even where the defendant or other party/driver is deemed at fault, negligent or otherwise liable. General damages can accumulate to a large sum of money, especially in high-impact accidents where victims have severe injuries such as broken bones/fractures, burns, brain injuries and more.
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It is possible for lawyers to conceal the fact that Prop 213 applies to their client until after there is an accepted offer, settlement and signed release; at which point, it is too late for the adjuster to renege on their offer. However, insurance adjusters have their own way of finding out whether Prop 213 applies to a particular claimant by running their own searches.
Prop 213 can be harmful to plaintiffs/clients with numerous medical treatments who can only receive compensation for their medical bills. Sometimes, they can receive loss of income as well. However, pain and suffering is completely off limits.
It is recommended to always have valid insurance to protect yourself and receive the compensation you deserve.