If you’re a Black person that was involved in a wrongful death case, does the race of your attorney matter?
Much like Black patients who are treated by Black doctors have better health outcomes, so can Black clients who are represented by Black attorneys.
It comes down to relevance.
While any attorney with the knowledge and expertise to handle a personal injury or wrongful death case can do so, cultural competency is something that can’t always be taught.
“I do think that there is a certain level of understanding of the community, empathy for situations and relatability that can contribute to a Black attorney being able to more directly understand the issues that arise in these cases,” attorney Josh Jones – who began Black Lawyers for Black People – said.
As Black attorneys, we are typically already invested in the community we serve. Whether through our client rosters, philanthropy, community service, or physical location of the practice. Therefore, Black attorneys typically have the community’s trust already which can help when trying to get witnesses to come forward. They are less likely to open up to an outsider.
This trend has been on full display in recent murder cases like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Jonathan Price. While each victim died at the hand of police officers, each family sought out Black attorneys to represent them.
Black attorneys are also more likely to take on clients that white attorneys may not due to negative factors associated with a client’s character (i.e. an ex-felon was killed and a major firm won’t take the case because of his criminal record, but a Black attorney would.)
In civil cases involving employment discrimination, bankruptcy, and more, white attorneys admitted 19 of 20 white attorneys who represented Black clients admitted to rejecting cases because they thought they may be unable to pay or due to their “demeanor and mannerisms,” according to an article in The Guardian
Studies also show when white attorneys do accept the cases of Black clients, biases (even if subconscious) result in more unfavorable outcomes – despite the client’s education and income level.
The same can be surmised about wrongful death lawsuits. Even in cases of victory, Black clients can end up receiving less compensation than deserved. Because of our cultural understanding, Black attorneys are equipped with the personal perspective of valuing a Black life, even though there is no real number that could ever be enough to take the place of the loss of a loved one. If you find yourself in the unfortunate event of needing an attorney to represent you or someone else in a wrongful death lawsuit, ask yourself who would best represent your interests. Visit our Black Lawyers for Black People Facebook Group to connect with a skilled Black attorney.
If you’re filing a wrongful death lawsuit, give our offices a call at (305) 239-HURT (4878). We’d be happy to help you determine if you have a case and answer any questions you may have about your claim. Consultations are free.
All information and tips provided in this blog are meant for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or an attorney-client relationship.