Understanding Proposition 213

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2023 | Car Accidents |

Like other U.S. states, California has laws that allow drivers injured in car collisions to pursue additional compensation from the other driver through lawsuits. The state also has no caps on the damage a driver can seek in a lawsuit.

However, California does have limitations on who can sue other drivers in an accident. Called Proposition 213, the legislation restricts certain types of people from recovering a specific kind of damage through lawsuits. What is this law, and can affected individuals still seek compensation?

What the proposition means

Proposition 213 prohibits uninsured drivers, felons, and drivers convicted of drunk driving after an accident from filing lawsuits seeking noneconomic losses against the other driver in a collision. Passed in 1996, the measure was meant to curb the then-rising insurance costs of Californians while preventing uninsured, drunk and felon motorists from seeking compensation.

However, the law only has restrictions for lawsuits seeking noneconomic damages. This means drunk, uninsured and felon motorists can still sue for economic damages.

Suing for economic damages

The term “economic damage” is quite broad. While the most common economic damages pursued in an auto accident lawsuit include medical expenses and automobile repairs, there are other less apparent damages that drivers can sue for, including:

  • Lost wages: Whether they’re wages lost because of being unable to show up for work following an accident or wages potentially lost in the future if the driver is too impaired to return to work, a driver can claim these as economic damages.
  • Future medical expenses: In catastrophic car collisions, a driver might suffer severe injuries requiring constant medical care. The driver may seek compensation if they prove they’ll need further treatment for their precarious condition.
  • Housekeeping services: If drivers are too injured to maintain their homes following an accident, they might hire a housekeeping service to help. The cost of hiring and retaining a housekeeper could be listed as economic damage, especially if the housekeeper has been tasked to perform services the injured driver wouldn’t have paid for if they weren’t too injured. These services include basic upkeep of the home, cooking, buying groceries, etc.

Even if uninsured, drunk and felon motorists can sue for economic damage, there’s no guarantee that their lawsuits will succeed. If their case goes to court, it could be challenging to prove their claims when public opinion isn’t in their favor. They might have to hire a personal injury attorney to protect their rights and ensure adequate compensation.