AUSTIN, TEXAS—On Dec. 16 Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse (TALA) announced a new statewide consumer education campaign, urging Texans to “Don’t Let a Lawyer Be Your Doctor.”
Small business owners, health care providers and lawsuit reform advocates have joined forces to press for greater consumer awareness in personal injury lawyer advertising. The campaign includes a television ad buy that’s running in the Houston market, one of the top 10 television ad markets for personal injury lawyers.
The campaign follows new data that puts several Texas cities at the top of national rankings for personal injury lawyer advertising spending. The study, released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), looks at the growth in advertising spending online and on television.
“As more patients rely on the Internet and television for health information, it’s important to distinguish between bona fide health resources and aggressive lawsuit advertising that attempts to shape patients’ health care decisions and steer them away from doctors and toward lawsuits,” said Jennifer Harris, a spokeswoman for Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse. “Personal injury lawyers are projected to spend a total of $892 million nationwide in television advertising in 2015, up from $541 million in 2008.”
The 68 percent growth in legal advertising on television over the past eight years was most evident in Houston, where that media market ranked among the top 10 television markets for personal injury lawyer advertising in 2015.
With more consumers utilizing the Internet and relying on mobile devices for their news and online searches, Harris said the organization’s new consumer campaign is especially timely.
“Consumers should be wary of the information in advertising when the advertiser – in this case, well-funded personal injury lawyers – have a vested financial interest in promoting a particular view,” said Harris. “Lawsuit ads are not subject to the same level of oversight for accuracy and disclosure as advertising for many other industries.”
According to WebpageFx, an online marketing firm, and SemRush, an online research firm, Texas cities topped the list of most expensive Google keyword search terms in 2015. Search terms like “San Antonio car wreck attorney,” “El Paso accident lawyer,” and “Austin Texas auto insurance” cost personal injury lawyers hundreds of dollars every time someone clicks on the ad.
“Consumers need to understand the facts and motives behind these online ads. These expensive search terms are focused on generating lawsuits and enriching personal injury lawyers, not protecting the consumer from harm,” said TALA Board Member Hazel Meaux of Beaumont.
TALA is urging consumers with questions about their health, medical care and treatments, to ask their doctor, not a personal injury lawyer, offering these simple tips:
• Don’t let a lawyer be your doctor;
• Personal injury lawyers are acting in their best interest, not the best interest of patients;
• Consumers should be on guard against personal injury lawyers and lawsuit recruiters who contact them and urge them to join a lawsuit or ask if they have a specific health condition. They are trolling for lawsuits and “ambulance chasing;” and
• Don’t let a lawyer pick your doctor. Consumers should beware of any attempt by a personal injury lawyer to steer them to a specific doctor.
For more information on the consumer awareness campaign and the recent ILR study data, visit www.tala.com or www.sickoflawsuits.org.