In California, except as provided in CC §3333.4(c), in any action to recover damages arising out of the operation or use of a motor vehicle, a person shall not recover non-economic losses to compensate for pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, and other nonpecuniary damages if any of the following applies [CC §3333.4(a)]:
(1). The injured person was at the time of the accident operating the vehicle in violation of Veh C §§23152 or 23153, and was convicted of that offense;
(2). The injured person was the owner of a vehicle involved in the accident and the vehicle was not insured as required by the financial responsibility laws of California [but see Savnik v. Hall (1999) 74 Cal.App.4th 733, 88 Cal.Rptr.2d 417 ("registered owner" who was passenger in uninsured vehicle was found not to be "owner" for purposes of Proposition 213, and was therefore not barred from recovering noneconomic damages, because boyfriend had placed passenger’s name on title as owner without her knowledge, and she had her own car which she used exclusively; "owner" referred to in statute, and one barred from recovering noneconomic damages, is not mere "registered owner" but one with all incidents of ownership, including legal title)]; or
(3). The injured person was the operator of a vehicle involved in the accident and the operator cannot establish his or her financial responsibility as required by the financial responsibility laws of California.
Additionally, and except as provided in CC §3333.4(c), an insurer shall not be liable, directly or indirectly, under a policy of liability or uninsured motorist insurance to indemnify for non-economic losses of a person injured as described in CC §3333.4(a). [CC §3333.4(b)]
However, in the event a person described in CC §3333.4(a)(2) was injured by a motorist who at the time of the accident was operating his or her vehicle in violation of Veh C §§23152 or 23153, and was convicted of that offense, the injured person shall not be barred from recovering non-economic losses to compensate for pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, and other nonpecuniary damages. [CC §3333.4(c)]
Proposition 213 (CC §3333.4) is constitutional, even when applied retroactively to cases filed before its enactment and brought to trial after its effective date. [Yoshioka v. Superior Court (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 972, 68 Cal.Rptr.2d 553; Quackenbush v. Superior Court (Congress of California Seniors) (1997) 60 Cal.App.4th 454, 70 Cal.Rptr.2d 271; see also Honsickle v. Superior Court (1999) 69 Cal.App.4th 756, 82 Cal.Rptr.2d 36 ((1) statute could be retroactively applied to uninsured driver who was injured and filed suit before statute’s passage; (2) there was no exception to statute for unlicensed driver who unsuccessfully attempted to procure insurance; (3) owner’s loss of consortium claim for nonecomonic damages could not be maintained because vehicle was uninsured while uninsured wife was operating it); Savnik v. Hall (1999) 74 Cal.App.4th 733, 88 Cal.Rptr.2d 417 (application of Proposition 213 to case filed before Proposition 213 was enacted, but not brought to trial until after enactment)]
Recovery of noneconomic damages is not barred by CC §3333.4, however, if the driver of the vehicle has insurance that covers operation of the vehicle involved even though the vehicle owners themselves may not have insurance covering the vehicle. In that situation, the required financial responsibility is established by the insurance carried by the driver of the vehicle. [Goodson v. Perfect Fit Enterprises, Inc. (1998) 67 Cal.App.4th 508, 79 Cal.Rptr.2d 102 (co-owner of van could recover nonecomoic damages resulting from death of wife who was riding in van at time of accident even though they did not have liability insurance covering van, because driver of van was insured under automobile liability policy covering her driving of van)]
Proposition 213 has also been held not to apply to a products liability cause of action against an automobile manufacturer brought by an uninsured driver injured in an automobile accident [Hodges v. Superior Court (1999) 21 Cal.4th 109, 86 Cal.Rptr.2d 884, 980 P.2d 433 (public policy embodied in Proposition 213 would not be furthered by extending application of Proposition 213 to product liability cases)]; to an uninsured driver who was injured in an automobile accident while driving his employer’s uninsured vehicle while in the course and scope of his employment [Montes v. Gibbens (1999) 71 Cal.App.4th 982, 84 Cal.Rptr.2d 324 (CC §3333.4 applies only where vehicle operator cannot establish his or her financial responsibility as required by financial responsibility laws; because financial responsibility laws exempt employees from financial responsibility/accident reporting requirements while operating their employer’s vehicles, Proposition 213 does not apply under such circumstances)]; and to wrongful death claimants (parents), who were neither uninsured owners nor operators, of uninsured driver (daughter) killed in an automobile accident [Horwich v. Superior Court (1999) 21 Cal.4th 272, 87 Cal.Rptr.2d 222, 980 P.2d 927 (parents did not come within provisions of CC §3333.4, because they were neither uninsured owners nor operators of vehicle involved in accident; further, wrongful death claimant who is not uninsured owner or operator cannot be one who has failed to take personal responsibility, because Proposition 213 imposes no obligation on that person)].