If You Don't Have Auto Insurance and You Get Into a Car Accident, Make Sure it's With a Drunk Driver. (Or Better Yet, Get Auto Insurance and Don't Get Into a Car Accident)Read Now
During my first semester of law school, one of my favorite professors - Anthony Bocchino - once proclaimed during a lecture on the "Heat of Passion" defense to murder that "if you ever want to murder somebody, make sure you do it while they're sleeping with your wife" (in reference to a case in which a man walked into his bedroom to find his wife in bed with another man, killed him, and had his murder charge downgraded because of the surrounding facts).
Utilizing the same cheeky rationale, I've coined a personal injury version of this piece of "advice": if you don't have auto insurance, and you get into a car accident, make sure it's with a drunk driver. (or better yet, get auto insurance and don't get into a car accident.)
Why, you ask? Prop 213.
Prop 213 is a law that prohibits uninsured drivers from recovering noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, if they are involved in an accident, even if the accident was entirely due to the negligence of another driver.
This law was passed on November 5, 1996, after the insurance companies lobbied for this law in order to save themselves a lot of money. Some argue that it has the potential to incentivize drivers to obtain auto insurance. I happen to be of the opinion that a person who is considering whether or not to purchase insurance does not consider their ability to collect noneconomic damages in a future accident. I would much rather have the state collect a fine from uninsured motorists and place the proceeds of such fines into a fund that helps victims of uninsured motorists. But that's beside the point of this article.
One of the major exceptions to Prop 213 is that Prop 213 does not apply to uninsured motorists that are hit by a drunk driver.
So let's say Moe does not have auto insurance, and is rear-ended by Barney, who just downed a 12 pack of Duff. Barney is subsequently convicted of a DUI. Moe is seriously injured, and can no longer lift anything, such as his phone when he fields important calls from patrons at his business. Moe will be able to collect both economic damages such as property damage to his vehicle and medical expenses that he must undergo to take care of his injuries. He may also be able to collect a large sum of money for the pain and suffering that he has to go through due to his inability to do everyday things, such as lifting a phone.
However, if all facts remain constant with the exception of Barney being drunk during the accident, Moe will be denied the cash for pain and suffering.
Thanks Prop 213.
So do yourself a favor, avoid this whole mess, and get auto insurance. I heard some guy the other day showing off about how he saved 15% or more on his car insurance.
*Prop 213 is applicable only in California. Check local laws if you are injured in another state.