Historically, the innocent victim of an automobile accident was entitled to collect money damages from the negligent driver's insurance company. Money damages fall into two (2) separate categories,
- economic damages, which are out of pocket expenses such as medical bills and lost earnings; and
- non-economic damages or compensation for pain, suffering, inconvenience, disfigurement, etc.
On November 5, 1996, the voters of this state passed Proposition 213 which became Civil Code Section 333.4. This law states that if the innocent victim did not have automobile liability insurance, then he or she cannot collect non-economic damages. The only exception is when the negligent driver is convicted of drunk driving. Thus, it is very important to verify that your insurance policy contains liability coverage.
Over the last two (2) years or so that the law has been in effect, there have been some very unusual situations where the law has been said to apply, such as situations where the car is parked and not even running or broken down on the side of the road.
Sadly enough, some of our clients have been involved as victims in automobile accidents where they thought they had the appropriate insurance because they had financed the car through a bank or credit union who made them get insurance. However, those policies usually only cover the car, collision and comprehensive, and may not contain liability coverage. This subjects the victim to the harsh and unfair results required by Proposition 213.
Do yourself and your family a favor. Always carry liability insurance on your car or truck, avoid traffic tickets, loss of drivers license, and loss of damages which will otherwise result.