Are women unfairly discriminated against in personal injury claims? Three important things to know

Navigating the world of personal injury claims can be tricky. When you merge this reality with issues of gender discrimination, understanding the nuances becomes all the more vital. 

Women often face disadvantages in this legal realm, marked by unfair biases and stereotypes resulting in potential financial losses. This article will delve into uncovering these injustices. In scrutinizing these facts, we aim to spur conversation and change for improved fairness.

What is a personal injury claim?

Personal injury claims are a common part of the legal landscape. They occur when someone takes legal action to seek compensation for an injury or loss they’ve suffered due to another person’s negligence or intentional actions.

This type of claim often arises following car accidents, incidents in the workplace, faulty product injuries, or medical malpractice disputes. 

Three things to know about personal injury claim discrimination 

As we unravel the complexities of personal injury claims, it’s crucial to highlight significant issues specific to discrimination. Here are three vital aspects you should be aware of.

Women are unfairly discriminated against due to “assumptions” 

According to Pew Research, women earned an average of 82% of what men earned. When the data is more controlled (comparing men and women with similar experience, education, job title, job level, and hours worked), the estimated pay gap ranges from 94% to 99%, but never 100%.

However, since there’s an assumption that women earn less than men because of their choice of job or to have children, coupled with women having lower lifetime earnings than men, courts often use the 82% figure to calculate personal injury claim payouts. Since courts award a payout based on assumed lifetime earnings, women will rarely, if ever, get a larger payout than men.

Intersectionality likely caused more discrimination 

Intersectionality is a term that describes the interconnected nature of social categorization (class, race, gender) and how these categorizations overlap and cause more discrimination. 

If someone is a woman, non-white, and a part of the LGBTQ+ community, they face greater challenges than their heterosexual, white woman counterparts. Since intersectionality can determine everything from your access to quality healthcare to your ability to acquire gainful employment, intersectionality likely determines a woman’s ability to get a better payout.

In fact, a 2009 National Association of Forensic Economics survey found that 43.6% of respondents would use race and gender data when projecting lost wages. And since black women earn less than white women on average, black women receive smaller payouts

Statistics on gender-based injuries rarely plays a factor

Courts also assess a payout based on what a plaintiff would have done for work if the injury had not occurred. Since men typically perform more physical jobs and are more likely to be injured doing them, the courts can easily access statistics that work in favor of the male plaintiff.

But even in cases where women are more likely to be injured than men (for example, in car accidents), women still receive smaller payouts. This is because the courts see men and women as a total statistic, not as individuals. While the extent of the injury can increase the payout, how likely the injury is to occur based on gender rarely plays a role. 

For courts to pay out more to a female plaintiff, a lawyer has to prove that they “aren’t like other women” and aren’t represented in statistics. However, this is much harder to prove. While statistics are thought to get rid of discrimination, they’re actually perpetuating it. 

We need to create a more equitable legal environment for everyone

In uncovering the truth about women’s experiences in personal injury claims, we’ve highlighted unfair disparities and areas for improvement. Together, we can create a more equitable legal environment for everyone. Your voice matters. Amplify it by sharing this article to raise awareness or simply engaging in discussions about these issues with your circles. 

And if you’re a legal practitioner, taking steps to check your assumptions and stereotypes can make a huge difference in how cases are handled. Let’s keep pushing for equality and justice.