Like many states, California is a “tort” state, which means you have the right to sue the at-fault driver or file a claim with the driver’s insurance company after an accident to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident caused by another driver, you may face restrictions if you did not have your own insurance as required by law. This is because California is one of 10 states with a rule called “No Pay, No Play.” This rule comes into play even if your insurance policy simply lapsed and you were unaware or you didn’t know a car you borrowed from someone was uninsured.
The “No Pay, No Play” Rule
As with most states, California requires drivers (including motorcyclists) to carry mandatory insurance. This insurance requirement applies to all registered vehicles, including motorcycles, and it’s designed to ensure all riders and drivers can pay for damages and injuries they cause to other people in a collision. Mandatory insurance laws are also designed to keep insurance premiums low for everyone. This mandate can be difficult to enforce and many states wanted an incentive to ensure everyone followed mandatory insurance laws. In California and a handful of other states, the “No Pay, No Play” statute was designed to do just this.
This law, passed in 1996 under California Proposition 213, is designed to penalize uninsured drivers by limiting their ability to recover special damages after an accident. Prop 213 also prohibits accident victims convicted of a felony for suing for damages suffered while in the act of fleeing the scene or committing a crime.
The “No Pay, No Play” statute is meant to help enforce California’s insurance laws by penalizing people who driver without insurance. If you do not have valid motorcycle or car insurance in California at the time of an accident, you are limited in the types of compensation you can recover for injuries. The reasoning behind the law is that if you do not have the mandated insurance to provide full compensation to someone else if you cause an accident, you shouldn’t be able to claim full benefits from someone else’s policy when you are not at fault.
Under the “No Pay, No Play” statute, you can still recover compensation for economic or general damages you suffer when the other driver is at fault. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. You will be barred from recovering non-economic or special damages, which may include pain and suffering and disfigurement. You will also be unable to collect compensation for disability and future medical expenses.
Uninsured Rider’s Rights in California
As an uninsured motorcyclist, you still have the right to be compensated for out-of-pocket expenses for treating injuries you sustained in an accident when someone else was at fault. The fact that you did not have insurance coverage does not absolve the other driver of liability for causing your injuries. You are entitled to your medical expenses and property damage. If you have been injured in an accident and did not have insurance, it’s important to consult with a personal injury lawyer experienced in cases that involve Proposition 213.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
While you are still entitled to economic damages after an accident if you didn’t have insurance, you may still face penalties for driving without insurance in an accident. When you are involved in a collision that results in bodily injury or property damage exceeding $750, the accident must be reported to the DMV and both drivers are required to present evidence of financial responsibility (or insurance). Without this, in addition to a fine, your license will likely be suspended for at least one year. Your car may also be impounded and you will need to pay towing and storage fees. You will need to get insurance before your license can be reinstated after one year.
As an injured victim, you still retain the right to sue for your 100% of your economic damages even if you didn’t have motorcycle insurance, although your case will most likely be settled with the insurance company before you need to file a lawsuit. A personal injury lawyer can help you protect your rights and seek fair compensation for your damages if the insurance company is unwilling to reimburse you fully.