Jurors are skeptical of giving money to anyone. It seems like a handout to a stranger. And worse, jurors do not get to track where the money goes afterward. There are a lot of factors that go into making jurors want to give your client money, but I want to focus right now on your client’s mental state and demeanor. Jurors do not want to give to hopeless causes.
Just last week, I ran a focus group on a case with a woman who had severe neck pain following a car wreck. Liability was admitted. The plaintiff is on morphine multiple times per day. But instead of the morphine showing jurors how much pain she is in, jurors focused on “giving money to someone to be doped up her whole life.” The problem was that the plaintiff did not appear to be doing anything to make her situation better. She claimed to continue to seek medical attention but could not explain what kind. She looked through a list of 200 jobs provided by her SSDI attorney but decided she was not able to do any of them. And to top it off, she’s a smoker. Jurors immediately figured if she isn’t going to help herself and try to get off the drugs, stop smoking, and try to find a job to take her mind off the pain, they were not willing to give her any money.
It’s human nature. We all want to help causes that provide hope. It makes us seem like our money is doing something good and worthwhile. Make sure your client presents as hopeful. If they cannot get a job or get out of the house, try to get them to do online surveys for money or look for bookkeeping jobs they can do from home. Have them seek therapy for the changes they are dealing with as a way to overcome any depression (jurors often fault plaintiffs for not seeking mental health help to cope with depression even if depression is never mentioned). Get them to read some self-help books instead of watching TV so they can tell the jury about their attempts to better themselves. See if they can donate their time to a cause that does not affect their pain. Jurors love to see others trying to help people and put their own pain aside. Finally, either get your client to stop smoking (pot or cigarettes!) or at the very least not mention it at trial or smoke at the courthouse or outside their homes during the trial.