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Proposition 213 and San Diego Rental Car Accidents

Victim Injured by a Hit and Run Driver

Proposition 213 is a California law which prohibits people injured in traffic collisions from recovering damages for "pain and suffering", even where the other driver is at fault, if the injured driver did not own auto insurance at the time of the accident. The reason for the law is that California wants to encourage drivers from purchasing auto insurance. Essentially, the penalty for not having auto insurance is that you cannot recover full damages if you are injured--the injured motorist can only collect damages for economic losses (medical bills, loss of earnings, etc.) but not "non-economic" damages (e.g., pain and suffering).

The owner of the rental car would be financially responsible and its' auto insurance coverage would apply if the renter's negligent driving caused injury to another motorist.

Does Proposition 213 Prevent A Victim from Recovering Pain and Suffering Damages?

So, what happens if (1) a driver who doesn't have auto insurance, (2) rents a rental car, (3) elects not to purchase auto insurance from the rental car company, and (4) is then injured due to another driver's negligence?

The answer is: No.

The injured driver can still collect pain and suffering damages, even though they personally did not own an auto insurance policy, because the rental car company's auto insurance policy itself will satisfy Proposition 213's requirements. Under California Vehicle Code Section 16451, every owner of a motor vehicle must insure their vehicles under the name of the named insurer "and any other person using any motor vehicle registered to the named insured with the express or implied permission of the named insured." In the context of a rental car company, this would include the renter of the motor vehicle who is voluntarily receiving the rental car in exchange for payment to the rental car company. Proposition 213 would also be satisfied because under California Vehicle Code Section 17150, an owner of a motor vehicle is liable for death or injury resulting from the negligent or wrongful act of operating its' motor vehicle.

In other words, because the owner of the rental car would be financially responsible and its' auto insurance coverage would apply if the renter's negligent driving caused injury to another motorist, Proposition 213 would be satisfied if it were instead the other motorist's negligence who caused injury to the renter.


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