Federal Guidelines Proposed to Eliminate Gender and Race in Calculating Personal Injury Awards

Personal Injury
Racial and Gender Bias

In a salvo against Donald Trump’s blatant racism against: Hispanics, Muslims, women and the disabled,  Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand(D-NY) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), introduced a bill on Thursday that would prevent Federal courts from considering personal injury victims’ race or gender when calculating their awards.

The law, if passed, would “also direct the Justice Department and Labor Department to make non-binding guidelines for state courts and forensic economists—advising them that current practices may violate Federal equal protection laws,” according to The Washington Post.

The actuarial numbers now being used to determine the value of personal injury awards, are based on how much victims or their families could recover in the future, if they hadn’t been injured.

Under current law, white males often receive larger awards than women and people of color with similar backgrounds.

For example, a white male with a bachelor’s degree is worth $2.28M, while a black male with a master’s is worth only $2.12 million. (www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/wonk/settlements)
Gillibrand told The Post, “In this day and age, the courts should not be allowed to say one life is worth more than another.”

Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), who is sponsoring the House bill with Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), is standing behind Booker and Gillibrand.

Strongmen Interests

Lawrence Spizman, the president of the National Association of Forensic Economics, a group of experts who calculates personal injury compensation, calls the bill “purely political”.
“Race, gender, religion, sexual orientation are the buzzwords of liberal politicians,” he told The Post.
“If females and minorities get the same [treatment], who’s going to pay for that? Insurance companies,” Spizman says.
Because insurance companies pay for large recoveries, these increased costs would be passed on to the companies and individuals who are their consumers, he reasons.
Disagreeing with him, Martha Chamallas, a law professor at Ohio State, said in an October Post article, the practice is reminiscent of “something Ruth Bader Ginsburg and civil rights advocates [fought] in the 1960s.” 
Jennifer Wriggins, a law professor at the University of Maine, said today’s widespread racism and sexism “reinforces past discrimination and pushes it out into the future and endorses it.” www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/wonk/settlements/
George Barrett, a forensic economist in Charleston, W.Va., “the overwhelming majority” of economists account for gender, and though it’s far less universal, it’s “absolutely” common for race-based tables to be used. 
He called demographics averages “the industry standard”.

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