Any trial lawyer has faced that question in voir dire, either explicitly or implicitly: “But what good will money do? It won’t undo anything.”
April 28, 2010 · 1:28 pm
This comes up most often when discussing intangible things, like pain, emotional distress, loss of consortium and loss of a normal life. Good lawyers have several ways to show why a full and fair verdict should include those damages where applicable. We all know that the purposes of the civil justice system are to make up for what has been done, compensate the victim, and hold the wrongdoer accountable for his/her actions. Good lawyers can explain to a jury why a verdict for medical bills and lost wages can’t begin to compensate a seriously injured person and his/her family.
Well today’s post isn’t about that. This post is about a new study that shows that handling cash makes us feel better. Just like how the lollipop at the pediatrician’s office makes the owie go away, a fat stack of Benjamins makes everything a little sweeter. Seriously. Participants in the study who had recently handled paper money felt less physical pain when they had their hand dipped in scalding water and less emotional pain when they felt socially excluded in another experiment.
I don’t think there’s much real information that can be extrapolated from this study. I’m sure some could argue that it means people’s perception of injuries and pain are different when money is involved, but I don’t see it that way. I thin the lollipop analogy is more apt – if the participants in the study had been holding a family pet, or spending time with loved ones, or even watching a favorite TV show (by the way, my current favorite is Modern Family) they would probably feel a little less pain or social exclusion. Good things (money) make bad things (pain) less bad. Probably don’t need a study to show that, when you boil it down that way.
(Howard Zimmerle is an accident and injury lawyer in Rock Island Illinois and Davenport Iowa.)