Are Texas Personal Injury Ads Causing Harm to Patients?

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on January 20, 2017 12:15 PM

Doctors v. Lawyers

No, it's not a lawsuit or an Alien v. Predator movie.

It's a real-life drama unfolding in Texas, where personal injury attorney ads have prompted doctors to fight back. With a survey showing lawyers advertise there more than most places in the country, doctors have mounted their own public relations campaign. Their slogan:

"Don't let a lawyer be a doctor."

Conducted on behalf of the Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse, the survey found that more than eight in ten doctors believe the lawyer advertisements are leading patients to question their medications. Also, apparently one in three patients stop taking their medications and suffer the health consequences.

Sick of Lawsuits

"As physicians, it's our job to keep our patient's health the top priority, but personal injury lawyers are only thinking about turning patients into plaintiffs," said Dr. Christine L. Canterbury, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist. "Patients should be cautious about what they believe from these ads and think about who is providing them the information and why."

Canterbury, who is president of the Bay City Area Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, condemned the growing practice of personal injury lawsuit ads being passed off as actual medical advice. She said personal injury ads pose a health threat to patients who believe them without consulting a physician.

SickofLawsuits.org, an online network of people against personal injury lawsuits, claims that 360,000 attorney ads focused on medical devices and medicines in 2015. Thirty of those people stopped taking their medications because of the ads; two of them died and two were paralyzed, the website says.

Lawyer Marketing

According to a report from the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, trial lawyers spent almost $900 million on advertising in 2015. It grew by 68 percent over the previous eight years.

Texas, California, and Virginia were the most saturated markets for broadcast advertising. Akin Mears, Morgan & Morgan, Pulanski & Middleman spent the most among legal advertisers -- about $25 million each on television commercials in 2015.

The report said that lawyers spent the most on prescription drug claims, followed closely by medical devices and asbestos/mesothelioma.

Effective lawyer advertising is never easy, and you certainly can't please everyone. But there are best practices to keep in mind for legal advertising in the digital age.

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