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California Proposition 213

Uninsured motorist after accident

California has several types of laws, also known as propositions (“prop”) that are voted upon every couple years. The propositions can include anything from increasing taxes to limiting medical malpractice. Props have sparked controversy due to the complicated way the question is asked, and how sometimes the questions are posed as a double negative, confusing the voter at the polls.

Many Californians do not know Prop 213, and how it impacts them if they were never involved in a car accident. Many find out about the repercussions of such a law when it’s too late. Prop 213, also called the Personal Responsibility Act of 1996, was passed by voters on November 6, 1996 and essentially limited the rights for uninsured drivers to collect any damages. “Uninsured” referred to uninsured drivers and uninsured cars. Seven million voters voted “yes” in support for the proposition. Regardless of whether or not the driver was at fault, the passed proposition restricts any uninsured driver from collecting noneconomic damages. The proposition also restricts any felon from recovering non-economic damages. The proposition applies to any type of vehicle, including cars, motorcycles, vans, etc.

California requires that all drivers have auto insurance with a minimum coverage of at least $15,000 for bodily injury, and proof of insurance must be provided when requested by law enforcement. Despite this mandatory law, many still choose not to get auto insurance. According to the Insurance Information Institute, approximately 12% of cars on the road in the United States were uninsured in 2019. 16% of drivers in California were uninsured. Despite a large number of drivers insured, California is the state with the highest number of car accidents. Prop 213 is still good law today, and many California courts have upheld this law. This law has been codified under California Civil Code Section 3333.4.

What Are Noneconomic Damages?

When accidents occur, the greatest losses could be noneconomic damages, also known as general damages. Noneconomic damages are determined by the jury and include emotional distress, loss of enjoyment, damage to reputation, and pain and suffering. There is no fixed standard as to how to determine the amount. For example, someone who enjoyed dancing got into a car accident after defendant hit him. The victim suffered a broken leg. The victim could recover loss of enjoyment because now he is unable to do the activities he used to do.

Economic damages, also known as special damages, are those damages that could be calculated with certainty, such as hospital bills and lost wages. Special damages may vary amongst drivers, and are proven by receipts.


The purpose behind the law was many voters felt that when a driver does not take steps to protect himself from negligence (such as getting insurance), the driver should not be allowed to collect any damages from others. The term “no pay, no play” was used in multiple advertisements supporting the proposition. For example, an uninsured drunk driver hits the car in front of him. Prior to the law passing, the front car will be unable to collect any compensation for injuries since the drunk driver is uninsured. However, the drunk driver could be able to collect partial compensation from the front car. Many voters thought this was unfair, and essentially passed this law as a punishment to encourage drivers to get auto insurance.

The proposition was fueled by insurance companies and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) who spent millions in advertising to get voters to vote yes. After this was passed, the amount of drivers who purchased insurance surged. However, unfortunately, the people that fell victim to Prop 213 were those that had insurance, but had forgotten to renew for a couple days. Those who also fell victim to this proposition where drivers who had suffered serious medical injuries with lasting effects that needed pain and suffering compensation.

Exceptions to CA Prop 213

There are exceptions to Prop 213 where a driver could still be able to receive some type of compensation despite not having car insurance. Prop 213 does not apply:

  1. When the accident occurs on private property. No law requires having insurance on private roads.
  2. When the owner of the car does not have insurance, but the person who borrowed the car has insurance on another car they own.
  3. When the car has a manufacturing defect. The manufacturer could be held strictly liable, regardless if the car was insured or not.
  4. When the drunk driver is at fault, and you are not insured, you are still able to receive noneconomic damages.
  5. When you are driving your employer’s car and the vehicle is not insured.
  6. When the accident led to a wrongful death claim. Heirs could still make a wrongful death claim, even if the deceased did not have insurance.
  7. There may be more exceptions depending on the situation. Contact our law firm to review your case and see if there are any other exceptions you could qualify for.

What This Could Mean for You

If you are uninsured and are injured in an automobile accident, Prop 213 applies, and you will be unable to get compensation, even if the accident was not your fault. You will be unable to get noneconomic damages. However, you should still pursue a claim for economic damages, such as your hospital bills or damages to your car. Contact our car accident attorneys today to review your options to best recover your damages.

If the vehicle you are driving is insured, then Prop 213 would not apply to you. However, constantly check to see your insurance has not lapsed, and when it needs to be renewed. If you were a passenger of a car that is not insured, Prop 213 would not apply. As a passenger, you are still entitled to compensation for injuries sustained. If someone else is driving your car, and your car is not insured, you would not be able to recover noneconomic damages.

Contact a Reliable Accident Attorney in California

To avoid any potential problems, drivers should obtain some type of auto insurance to protect themselves. Accidents could end in serious injuries, and Prop 213 could unfortunately limit the damages one could collect.

If you get involved in an accident, the first step to take is to call authorities. Then, to collect information from other parties involved. The next step would be to contact an attorney to review the different types of compensation available.

Contact our California car accident attorneys today to see if you have a viable car accident claim. Our personal injury attorneys are experienced in California law, with offices in major cities such as Irvine, Los Angeles, and Fresno. Our team can offer a risk-free consultation to better determine your recovery damages.

***Disclaimer: This blog is created by Heidari Law Group for educational purposes. This article provides a general understanding of the law. It does not provide specific advice. By using this site and reading through this blog, there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and any member of Heidari Law. Further, due to the constant change of the law, some parts of the information above may no longer be good law.

Sam Heidari

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Sam Heidari

Sam Ryan Heidari

Sam Heidari is the founding principal of Heidari Law Group, a law firm specializing in personal injury, wrongful death, and employment law with offices in California and Nevada. Sam Heidari has been practicing law for over 11 years and handles a wide range of cases including car accidents, wrongful death, employment discrimination, and product liability. The Heidari Law Group legal firm is known for its comprehensive approach, handling cases from initial consultation through to final judgment. Sam Heidari is dedicated to community involvement and advocacy for civil liberties.

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