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How Gender Bias Shapes Wrongful Death Awards


In the personal injury space, not even death can end the unfair treatment of women and people of color. The pay gap remains a hot topic in American society. With women and minorities earning substantially less than their white male counterparts, unequal pay shapes many people’s lives. And according to a recent report in the Washington Post, it can also shape their deaths.

The piece took a look at the ways archaic race and gender stereotypes play a role in injury awards. The article cited two wrongful death claims: one involving an unborn male fetus and one involving a bright, promising six-year-old girl. Despite the girl’s educated parents, her intelligence and the fact that she already had a college fund in place, the family of the fetus received more money for its potential lost income. How is that possible?

According to experts, it’s a flawed but logical extension of the pay gap. Even if the girl attained a higher level of education, the man the fetus would have become would likely have earned more money in his lifetime.

What’s Your Life Worth?

The article even provides a handy, interactive calculator so you can see what your life might be worth to a jury of your peers. A white man under the age of 25 who is expected to complete an associate’s degree has an estimated future lost income of $1.6 million dollars. To reach the same projected income, a black woman of the same age would need to complete a master’s degree.

The role of gender bias isn’t limited to auto accident claims. According to a lawsuit filed last year, California’s workers’ comp system also has a history of treating male injury victims more favorably than women.

At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we believe that everyone deserves justice under the law after a serious accident or injury. We’ve built our practice on that premise. We sincerely hope that lawmakers, judges and other players in the legal system will take the necessary steps to fully protect all injury victims.