California Prohibits Calculation of Damages linked to Gender, Race and Ethnic Differences

A new state law explicitly forbids reducing damages for lost future compensation in cases of  wrongful death and also for personal injury when those reductions arise as a result of gender, race or ethnic differences.  This law has great implications for members of visible and ethnic minorities who are seeking compensation for personal injury claims.

In the essay entitled “Whiteness, Equal Treatment, and the Valuation of Injury in Torts, 1900-1949”, Jeffrey Wriggins from the University of Maine School of Law observes how the compensation claims of black litigations were devalued and impossible to challenged.  The Washington Post provided proof of such devaluations by black litigants.

But, thanks to Governor Gavin Newsom’s leadership, a new tort reform measure called S.B. 41 has been signed into law.  This state enactment forbids the reduction of damages for lost of future earnings related to personal injury and wrongful death when based on prohibited discriminatory grounds.  Thanks to the Newsom administration in California women and various minorities ought to expect the same kind of damages from personal injury and wrongful death cases that they would be entitled to if they were white and male.

If you query how the revised regime of California tort law many affect your personal injury claim in southern California, it’s advisable to consult a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer whose claim in your behalf may help you rebuild your life.

The significance of S.B. 41 cannot be underestimated in the context of its support to overall civil rights in matters which pertain to litigation.  In the tort system, the calculation of lost wages is indeed a critical facet and a “big-ticket” consideration.

When a victim is hurt as a result of an accident and their ability to work impaired, it becomes necessary to estimate future lost wages.  Lawyers, juries and judges estimate the plaintiff’s loss of future earnings.  In other words, what would the plaintiff have earned if they hadn’t been injured.  Experts often rely on “life and wage expectancy tables” which often have cited different amounts based on the plaintiff’s race and gender.

The result of a reliance by members of the justice system and forensic economists alike on “life and wage expectancy tables” has provided a dysfunctional statistical basis in the reinforcement of institutionalized racism and sexism which ought to have no place when making evaluations of the calculation of damages in a system which supports equal rights.

A 2009 survey under the auspices of the National Association of Forensic Economics found 92% of respondent affirmed that they would rely on racial and gender-based considerations when seeking to estimate future earnings of a child who suffered injury.

Defenders of such gender and race-based tables like to assert that such data reflects racism and sexism in society and that calculations of loss earnings can only be accurately assessed if such data can be realistically be used to support accurate assessments.

Critics respond that the use of such tables ignore progress on matters of equity which could be made in the plaintiff’s lifetime.

Critics also note that the use of such tables may lead lawyers to turn away from prospective contingency cases involving visible minorities and women based upon a calculation that supporting such plaintiffs will lead to a loss of pay-outs for personal injury lawyers.  However, thanks to S.B. 41 women and visible minorities do not need to feel that they are impaired in their ability to obtain a just reward in personal injury cases.

And earlier this year, sixteen of the nation’s most prominent civil rights organizations—including the

Civil rights organizations which include the ACLU and the NAACP published a letter earlier this year which demanded that the National Association of Forensic Economists stop relying on tables which promote discrimination and inequity.

Through S.B. 41, California becomes the first state to redress inequity in personal injury cases with affirmative legislative action. However, S.B. 41 doesn’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2020. It therefore remains too early to tell how effective this legislation will be.  However, it will undoubtedly be used by forward-thinking law firms to support the best outcomes for their clients in a state which can become known as a leader in progressive legislative reforms.

 S.B. 41 prevents gender, race and ethnic differences as a basis of legitimating lower claims than white male counterparts deemed to be capable of making money in any calculation of loss wages as a result of debilitation.

California over the year has not only become a leader in tort reform but also broadly on forward-thinking legal reforms. In the Greenman versus Yuba Power Products case, in 1963 the state-enforced strict liability on producers of faulty products. This was a method that was established promptly by the Second Restatement of Torts.

The state, therefore, became a trend-setter after five years in the Dillion versus Legg, passers-by liability for emotional damage. This was established by the Supreme court in California and in that very year, in Rowland v. Christian case, the conventional landholder premises liability was annulled by the court.

The lists of tort law in California “firsts” are in various forms and long, which incorporates heavyweights as Summers versus Tice (1948). California’s Tarasoft versus Regents (1976) enforces a “duty to warn” on therapists. A market share liability was established in the Sindell versus Abbott Laboratories (1980) for the inter-hereditary danger traceable to DES. Expecting mothers use this medication to avoid miscarriage.

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