In previous posts (see Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage and Car Accident? What Kind of Insurance Do You Have/Need?) it was mentioned that under California law, drivers are required to maintain “liability” insurance of at least $15,000 per person, per auto accident. Aside from the fact that anyone driving on California roads without valid insurance faces potential fines and charges from the state, if that individual is the victim in a car, truck or motorcycle accident and sustains personal injury, they will not be allowed to pursue non-economic (i.e., general) damages from the at-fault party (see Injured Victim’s Duty to Mitigate Damages After an Injury Accident). The personal injury victim would feel that this is an unfair consequence of driving without insurance in California, considering the victim was the one who did nothing wrong. While the argument makes sense, the bigger picture California law wants everyone to see is that because the cost and expense of treating individuals who are in auto accidents with uninsured drivers is so great, there must be some sort of mechanism (or in this case, consequence) in place to deter anyone operating a car, truck or motorcycle on California’s roads without valid car insurance from doing so. In the big scheme of things, this rule does not focus on the individual personal injury victim who was driving without valid car insurance; rather, it focuses on what is best for the greater good of all drivers and pedestrians on the road. The theory behind it is that knowing you will not be compensated for your pain and suffering if you are in a car accident, trucking accident or motorcycle collision without valid insurance, you will make all efforts to obtain the state-mandated minimum liability insurance before operating your automobile or motorcycle on the road. The related question to this rule is whether passengers in the car that was operated by a driver who didn’t have insurance will be subject to this no-general-damages rule. The answer is No. California law requires the driver to carry valid coverage, not the innocent passengers. These passengers will be able to pursue the at-fault party for all damages stemming from the accident without fear of any limitation. However, if the driver of the car the passengers are in is uninsured, they might think twice about getting into the vehicle in the first place. If you were involved in a car, truck or motorcycle accident on California roadways, contact our motor vehicle accident attorney for a free consultation today.
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