Just as the way some iconic advertising campaigns might create among us a unique cultural bond, TV watchers and internet surfers today share a common experience. We’re all aware of – and annoyed by – personal injury lawyer advertisements, “If you’ve ever been injured, call now for a free consultation…”

Personal injury lawyer advertising is a huge presence on our TV screens and computer searches. It’s also the most visible element of the vicious cycle of lawsuit abuse in this country. Where does the money come from for these ads? Personal injury lawyers get rich filing lawsuits that are often weak on facts or fueled by imbalanced laws. The bounty they reap from these lawsuits goes into the huge volume of injury ads that we see constantly, so they can recruit more plaintiffs for more questionable lawsuits.

About $900 million was spent last year on personal injury ads on TV alone, according to a U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform report. Online, more than 90 percent of the top 25 most expensive Google search terms are related to litigation, according to the report, and the high prices are bid up by high advertiser demand.

Why advertise 24/7 for lawsuit plaintiffs? To create “class members” for personal injury lawyers to bring mass tort lawsuits. What happens to the millions of plaintiffs signed up by the ads and web links? They are bought and sold by the lawsuit generators as if they were cattle or corn futures. Who regulates these ads to make sure they are truthful and ethical? As you might have guessed from looking at the ads, they are barely regulated at all – but they should be!

This aggressive plaintiff recruitment comprises just part of the cycle of lawsuit abuse – lawsuit friendly laws make personal injury lawyers rich as they file more and more lawsuits, and lawsuit riches buys nearly a billion in TV ads to gin up more plaintiffs and wealth-producing lawsuits. The rest of the cycle of lawsuit abuse is the personal injury lawyers putting their money into political campaigns and supporting pro-lawsuit politicians who help to preserve the imbalanced laws – and try to create new ones. Seem a little complicated? It’s not, and we’ve laid it out with a few graphics here.

So the next time you see a personal injury ad that is giving you advice about what to do, remember these three things:

- You shouldn’t believe everything you see in the largely unregulated world of personal injury lawyer advertising;

- Personal injury lawyer advertising can mislead and scare consumers on important issues, such as their health care; and 

- Personal injury lawsuits are often about making those lawyers rich, not making victims whole.

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