Are Societal Gender Norms Reflected In Personal Injury?

Gender DifferencesRole of Gender

Gender plays a significant role regarding personal injury claims. It makes a difference in court whether the injured person is male or female, and often will be cited. Present-day inequalities are effectively translated into the calculation of damages that will go in resolving a case.

The Pay Gap

The pay gap between men and women is part and parcel a factor claims adjusters use when calculating the totality of a claim’s worth.[1] Women are expected, on average, to make 81 cents for every dollar earned by men.[2] When totaling the number of years or months a woman misses out on work due to injury, the expected future earnings is provided as a basis for the payout.

Using Older Assumptions

In addition, many women, albeit less now than historically, will choose to have a child or start a family. The assumption is that women of a child-bearing age will take off from work during pregnancy and beyond to rear their children.[3] Many of these assumptions and stereotypes are partly outdated and still use older methodology. One such is assuming a woman will spend more time off work, when women are increasingly returning to work quicker after pregnancy.[4] An increasing phenomenon is the occurrence of stay-at-home dads, where parental responsibilities are being shared more equally, or traditional norms are switched. In many cases, women are choosing not to have children. An important question to pose is if these phenomena are considered with personal injury claims among women.

Gratuitous Care Claims

Even so, gender differences disadvantaging women persist regarding a ‘care claim’. If a victim of an injury is in receipt of care from a family member or friend, a claim can be made based on ‘gratuitous care’ on behalf of the person administering care, but through the victim. Based on stereotypes of familial roles, women have been poised to receive less through these claims.[5]

What’s Worth More?

These notable differences also affect wrongful death claims. A 1996 case involved a male fetus and 6-year-old girl, both killed in a vehicle collision. Calculating a settlement for the fetus equated to an 84 percent higher settlement than the girl’s.[6]

Shedding Light on Gender Inequality

With a history of gender inequality, the law still has a way to go in providing equal treatment. Payouts of personal injury claims often rely on automatic and outdated approaches.[7] We hope to shed more light on this and champion gender equality in personal injury and workers’ compensation claims.

[1] Oxley, Helena. “Gender Differences Still Persist with Personal Injury Claims.” Lawyer Monthly | Legal News Magazine, Lawyer Monthly, 11 May 2018, www.lawyer-monthly.com/2018/04/gender-differences-still-persist-with-personal-injury-claims/.

[2] “The State of the Gender Pay Gap 2020.” PayScale, PayScale, Inc., www.payscale.com/data/gender-pay-gap.

[3] Oxley, Helena. “Gender Differences Still Persist with Personal Injury Claims.” Lawyer Monthly | Legal News Magazine, Lawyer Monthly, 11 May 2018, www.lawyer-monthly.com/2018/04/gender-differences-still-persist-with-personal-injury-claims/.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Soffen, Kim. “In One Corner of the Law, Minorities and Women Are Often Valued Less.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 25 Oct. 2016, www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/wonk/settlements/.

[7] Ibid.

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