No Insurance – No Pain and Suffering

LA Personal Injury LawyerAs a car accident and personal injury lawyer, I represent clients who have been injured in car accidents due to the negligence of another party.  However, some of these clients did not carry auto insurance as required by California state law at the time of the accident.  For these clients, the reasons for not having auto insurance run the gamut from financial issues to a misunderstanding of documents received from insurance companies or their agents regarding renewal of their policies.  Regardless of the reason, the absence of valid insurance creates many issues for representing such clients in the context of a personal injury claim.

Such clients are subject to Proposition 213, which is also known as the Limitations on Recovery to Felons, Uninsured Motorists and Drunk Drivers Initiative and was approved by voters in the November 1996 general election.  As it relates to uninsured motorists, Proposition 213, or Prop 213 as it is commonly called, prohibits an uninsured driver from recovering noneconomic damages in a personal injury claim.  Such a person can still recover lost wages and medical expenses, however, damages for pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement and emotional distress are barred from recovery.

As a car accident lawyer in Van Nuys, California representing accident victims who are subject to Prop 213 can be very challenging.  If liability is not promptly accepted by the insurer for the negligent party, then my client must wait weeks or even months before getting their vehicle repaired.  Such clients often also do not have the means to rent a car while liability is pending, consequently, such clients will neither have an operable vehicle or the ability to pay for a rental car for extended periods of time, increasing the hardship the accident has caused.

Even once the property damage portion of the claim is resolved, challenges still remain in handling the bodily injury portion of the claim.  Most Prop 213 clients will be limited to recovering their medical bills unless they also have lost wages or salary to claim.  To complicate this already difficult scenario, the insurer for the negligent party will often claim that the medical bills generated by the treating providers were not reasonable in price or some of the medical treatment was not causally related or medically necessary and offer a settlement that is even less than the total medical bills owed by the client.  These scenarios make for complicated negotiations with the medical providers who want to receive payment as fully as possible but also must understand the realities of the situation that attends treating such patients.  As a car accident lawyer in Van Nuys, California, Prop 213 claims place me in the difficult position of trying to resolve the medical bills of the client, obtain a reasonable fee for my services and satisfy the client’s expectations regarding their personal injury claim with a recovery that does not include the general damages of pain and suffering that attend the majority of the claim I handle.

As a car accident lawyer in Van Nuys, California, Prop 213 claims are amongst the most difficult to handle and successfully resolve.  However, these clients need my help the most since economic hardship is usually the reason that they were uninsured and I always try to keep that in mind when helping clients with these claims.

Thanks to our friend James D. Pacitti, founding partner of The Law Office of James D. Pacitti, for his insight into accident situations involving an uninsured driver.