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Gender And Racial Bias In Personal Injury Settlements

Most of us are aware of the gender and racial bias present in the professional world. It's the elephant in the room. Everyone is aware of it, but no one wants to address the issue. In an effort to confront the issue head-on, President Obama passed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act of 2009. The data collected is very eye-opening.

As of 2013, wages for black males averaged 25 percent less than white males, and Hispanic males received 32.8 percent less. A white female averaged 22 percent less than her white male colleagues. Black women received 36 percent less, while Hispanic women received 46 percent less than white males in America.

But why is this is relevant to personal injury lawsuits? Because the courts often use this data to determine the settlement amount in tort law cases.

The Life Of An Unborn Boy Was Valued Far Higher Than A Young Girl's

While most personal injury settlements include confidentiality agreements, there are many high-profile cases made public over the years, with staggering results.

Take the wrongful death case of a six-year-old female and an unborn male fetus featured in the Washington Post. When the young girl and her godmother were killed in a car wreck, their families were devastated. The godmother was pregnant and the little girl had a bright future ahead of her. The victims' families filed a lawsuit against the defendant, citing wrongful death.

After a long fight, the suit settled in a federal court in Georgia. The victim's lifetime earning potential is a primary consideration when drafting wrongful death settlement offers, and this case was no different. The court agreed that the unborn fetus's award should be considerably higher than the six-year-old girl's. The young girl was at a high intelligence level, and her parents already had a prepaid college fund in place for her. The fetus's mother, on the other hand, was uneducated and unaware of who the father was.

Despite these details, the six-year-old's "future lost income" was considerably lower, simply because she was a female. The court awarded a settlement 84 percent higher for the unborn boy than for the young girl.

What Will It Take To See Things Change?

Bias is a matter of tradition that runs deep in American history. While the numbers have shifted slightly over time, gender and racial bias are still widely present. The question is, what will it take to break this long-standing tradition?

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