I was rear-ended in a car accident and got injured. I want to make a claim, but law firms are telling me they won’t take my case because I had no auto insurance. The accident wasn’t my fault! Why won’t they take my case?
Here’s the problem: the value of your case is severely impacted because you had no auto insurance at the time of the accident. California law requires that all drivers have auto insurance. If you don’t, and you get into a car accident, even if the accident wasn’t your fault, you will be penalized for failing to comply with the law.
Lawyers use shorthand when referring to cases such as yours. We call them “Prop 213 cases.” A Prop 213 case means there was no auto insurance on the car you were driving at the time of the accident. It applies regardless of whether you were driving someone else’s car. The applicable statute is California Civil Code Section 3333.4. The law went into effect in 1996. If your accident is a Prop 213 case, a penalty will apply to your claim and most lawyers will pass on taking your case because the value is limited, and they simply won’t make enough money to justify the time and expense of handling your case.
PROP 213 PENALTY – EXPLAINED
If your accident is a Prop 213 case, meaning you had no auto insurance at the time of the accident, the penalty is this:
- You CAN make a claim for “economic damages.” “Economic damages” means out-of-pocket bills that you incur: past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, repair or total loss of your vehicle, rental car, diminished value of your repaired car.
- You CANNOT make a claim for noneconomic damages: pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering is typically the largest component of a car accident settlement. CACI 3905A is the jury instruction which explains pain and suffering. It defines pain and suffering as past and future:
- Physical pain
- Mental suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Physical impairment
- Emotional distress
PROP 213 EXCEPTIONS
Even if your accident is a Prop 213, don’t give up. You should talk to a personal injury law firm. Oftentimes, the attorneys at McGee, Lerer & Associates find an insurance policy which applies (for example the insurance policy of someone you live with or a relative’s), knocking out Prop 213, or we find an exception to Prop 213 that applies to you.
If we can’t find an insurance policy that applies to the car you were driving, we will look for a Prop 213 exception. There are several exceptions to Prop 213. If a Prop 213 exception applies to your accident, then, even if there was no auto insurance on the vehicle you were driving at the time of an accident, you won’t be penalized. Prop 213 exceptions include:
- The other driver was convicted of DUI.
- You were a passenger in the car, not the driver.
- You were driving an employer’s uninsured car.
- You don’t own the car you were driving, but you own another car and have auto insurance on it.
- The accident did not arise out of the operation or use of a motor vehicle on a public street or highway. For example, if the accident happened on private property, the Prop 213 penalty may not apply to you.
- You are the heir of an uninsured driver who died in a car crash and you are bringing a wrongful death claim.
WHAT IF YOU BUY AUTO INSURANCE RIGHT AFTER THE ACCIDENT?
You may wonder: if I’m uninsured at the time of a car accident, but purchase auto insurance immediately after the car accident, can I avoid the Prop 213 penalty? Unfortunately: no. That won’t work. The insurance company will ask the time of the accident. If you purchased an insurance policy on the same day, they will look into the time that you purchased the insurance. If you bought the auto insurance after the accident, the Prop 213 penalty will apply to you.
PROP 213 MAY NOT APPLY IF YOU RECENTLY BOUGHT THE CAR
If within 30 days before the accident, you purchased the car you were driving at the time of the accident, and just haven’t gotten around to reporting the car purchase to your auto insurance carrier, you will likely be covered under that insurance policy, meaning that the Prop 213 penalty will not apply to you. Insurance companies give you a 30-day grace period to report the vehicle purchase.
PROP 213 AND CATASTROPHIC INJURIES
If you suffered catastrophic injuries in a car accident, then even if you had no auto insurance, a personal injury law firm will likely take your case. The reason: your past and future medical bills and lost wages will be significant, and thus it makes it financially worth it for a law firm to take on your case.
Contact the lawyers at McGee, Lerer & Associates if you were injured in a car accident but had no car insurance at the time of the accident. We’ll explain the ramifications of no having insurance. We’ll explore whether a Prop 213 exception applies to your case. Even if no exception applies, we may be able to take your case if your injuries were significant. We are available 24/7 for a free consultation. If we take your case, we charge nothing upfront. We get paid at the end of your case, out of the money we collect from the insurance company. If we collect nothing, we’re paid nothing. Read more about how the fee works here.