When Race Affects Personal Injury Cases

In the month of January, we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr, who committed his life to racial equality and issues for social justice. His work led to the development of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, which made it unlawful to discriminate against someone based on their color, race, gender, religion, or national origin. Yet it is more than disappointing to realize that despite decades later after his tragic assassination, race still impacts people’s lives in an adverse way. For instance, when it comes to personal injury cases, race and gender may be used to calculate and justify lower payments for victims simply due to certain inherent characteristics. 

To bring this point to the forefront, consider the fact that gender and race biased wage tables are used to calculate how much someone should receive in damages for a personal injury accident. Women of African American descent receive about half as much as a white male would in the exact same situation. In personal injury lawsuits, plaintiffs pursue financial compensation from the at-fault parties, who caused them harm either through intention or negligence. Such damages may include economic and non-economic factors, such as medical bills or pain and suffering. Damages can include both current lost wages and loss of potential income the victim would have made if the injury incident had not occurred. 

A study by the National Association of Forensic Economics (NAFE) did a survey in 2009, where they found out that around 44% of respondents utilized both gender and race data when calculating lost wages, and over 48% used gender only. Women and people of color consistently earn less, and the wage tables used by forensic economists results in less compensation compared to white males. Another example is in 2016, the Washington Post found that through these gender and race wage tables, a young African American woman would receive $1.24 million dollars in future loss wages. While in comparison, a white male of the same age and same claim, with an identical injury, would receive almost twice as much. 

As a black personal injury lawyer explains, many people argue that these gender and race biased compensation tables reinforce discrimination at a systemic level. They claim that the data is inaccurate for the intention of making future projections. It is common knowledge that such wage tables place a lower value on people who are women and/or of color. Yet, these tables are the industry standard. This is just one aspect of personal injury cases that are biased against people of color. Every person deserves the same treatment based on what they have endured due to the fault of another. Those who have been in a personal injury incident and were seriously harmed must consider speaking with a legal team who is experienced in handling situations like these, similar to the lawyers from Council & Associates, LLC, particularly for cases that may be impacted by racial discrimination and bias. Each person, regardless of their inherent characteristics, deserves fair compensation for what they went through as a victim.