On average, a Black man in the U.S. earns 25% less than a white man. Black women earn 36% less than white men, and Latinx women earn 46% less.
Have you heard statistics like these in the news? Sadly, these statistics are due to our nation’s history of systemic racism resulting in lower pay for Black people and Latinx. Accordingly, statistics like these have an impact on how settlements are calculated in personal injury cases.
That’s right – when it’s time to decide on the value of someone’s injury or even their life, the law requires the use of economic wage valuations despite the inherent racism involved. Furthermore, juries may have personal biases that further taint the process for Black people and Latinx.
Why Do Lawsuits Put Dollar Values on Human Beings?
When someone is injured or killed due to another person’s negligence, a personal injury lawsuit holds the negligent party financially responsible. This creates a situation where a dollar value must be established.
Take a moment to put yourself in the place of a juror or lawyer trying to figure this out. How do you put a financial figure on a horrible facial injury that will affect someone for life? How do you possibly assign a dollar amount to the tragic loss of an unborn child?
People working in our legal system have to do this every day in order to handle personal injury claims. The standard practice for establishing value is to look at wage information from the Department of Labor, plus data tables from the insurance industry and other sources of national statistics about earning power in the U.S. These sources are already putting people of Black people and Latinx at a disadvantage because of established wage and income disparities.
Ultimately, this results in monetary awards that break down along racial lines. Because the statistics often used for these evaluations show that historically a Black female earns less money in society than a white male, a Black woman will typically receive a lower personal injury settlement.
Do White People Really Receive More Money? (Yes!)
It’s unfair, but it’s happening every day. White people are receiving more money in personal injury claims than Black people or Latinx. Men are also receiving more than women. Although the details of settlements are usually confidential, those that have become public are shocking.
For example, look at the case of a Black woman in Florida who was offered just $12,000 after a serious vehicle accident. That’s $3,000 less than the average $15,000 for a Florida car accident settlement. It’s also far below the actual cost of the woman’s four years of difficult reconstructive surgeries, which affected her ability to use her master’s degree to work. She fought the low initial settlement offer with the help of her lawyer.
A jury eventually awarded the injured woman $1.57 million – but her lawyer attributes the high value to the fact that at the last minute, an emergency required the white jury foreperson to be replaced by a Black foreperson. The lawyer called it “an amazing turn of events.”
In another case, a four-year-old New York boy was left with permanent brain damage and lost his ability to speak due to the effects of lead paint in his parents’ rental home. In a lawsuit, the family sought $3.4 million.
However, the landlord’s lawyer argued that because the boy was Latinx, it was unlikely that he would have attended college. After a back-and-forth discussion that used ethnicity in the calculations of the boy’s lifetime earning power, the family received a much lower amount of $1.9 million.
In another case right here in Berkeley, California, Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers assisted a Black motorcyclist who received a very low offer from the insurance company after a motorcycle accident. Their initial offer was $125,000, which is just $75,000 more than the policy’s bottom limit and was nowhere near the cost of the motorcyclist’s losses.
Sally Morin Law helped him negotiate a settlement of $425,000, including more than $225,000 for his high level of pain and suffering. Without a lawyer’s help fighting for his rights, this California citizen might not have ever received the compensation he truly deserved.
What Can You Do? You Can Sue. You Can Fight Racism.
If you feel enraged by these stories, you’re not alone. Many people – including those of us who work in the legal system – are appalled at the way personal injury claims are currently assigned value under the law.
Legislators have attempted to change the law to eliminate this type of racism and sexism. In 2016 and then 2019, a bipartisan legislative group attempted to pass the Fair Calculations in Civil Damages Bill, but it failed to move forward in Congress.
You can fight injustice in personal injury settlements by hiring a lawyer and demanding higher compensation. After an accident, stand up for your right to be treated fairly. Reach out to a caring and compassionate attorney who respects your value as a fellow human being.
“I was involved in a motorcycle accident last year that left me in pretty rough shape, I needed surgery and a lot of rehab which I’m still doing a year later. I hired Sally Morin law firm and I could not have made a better decision. Lauren and her team were so amazing and I could not have been any happier with the results trust me :). She handled everything with insurance, bills, and helped every step of the way, so I could just focus on rehab and getting back to normal.” – Austin S.
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We Handle Your Personal Injury Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life
After an injury, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. Our team of legal professionals will fight to stand up against these injustices to get every one of our clients a full and fair settlement. As an all-women law firm, we seek to represent women, Black people and Latinx to maximize the financial result of their traffic accident claims.
We handle all types of personal injury traffic accident cases, including car, rideshare, truck, scooter, motorcycle and pedestrian accidents. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering while we handle the legal details. We truly care about ALL citizens of California. Contact us today for a free online case evaluation.