New Report: Trial Lawyers Spend Millions on TV Ads in West Virginia

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New Report: Trial Lawyers Spend Millions on TV Ads in West Virginia S.B. 66 to address deceptive lawsuit advertising practices   FEB. 25, 2019 (WASHINGTON) – Today, the American Tort […]


New Report: Trial Lawyers Spend Millions on TV Ads in West Virginia

S.B. 66 to address deceptive lawsuit advertising practices

 

FEB. 25, 2019 (WASHINGTON) – Today, the American Tort Reform Association released a study showing spending in the millions on TV ads by trial lawyers in two top West Virginia media markets.

“Don’t settle for quick cash! Call now to get what you’re entitled to!” If it feels as though these ads flash across the screen nearly every commercial break, it’s because they do. In the first, second and third quarters of 2018 (January 1 – September 30), nearly 90,000 ads for legal services aired on local broadcast networks in two of the largest media markets in West Virginia – totaling $3.9 million in spending to purchase these ads.

“We know these ads may be irritating or even comical at times, but they absolutely can have negative effects on consumers,” American Tort Reform Association President Tiger Joyce said. “Oftentimes, a TV ad with a lawyer speaking might claim a certain prescription or medical device may cause harm, and without consulting a doctor, viewers who are prescribed these medications may cease use due to the fear created by unfounded advertisements.”

A Public Opinion Strategies survey found that three-quarters of Americans saw ads by law firms about pharmaceutical lawsuits in 2016. The survey goes on to say that one-in-four people who saw one of these ads concerning a medicine they take, say they would immediately stop taking the medicine without consulting their doctor.

The FDA found that 61 patients stopped using their prescribed blood-thinner medications, Xarelto or Pradaxa, after viewing these commercials in 2016. Six of the patients died – three from stroke, one from cardiac arrest, one from a pulmonary embolism, and one from an unreported cause.

Dr. Ilana Kutinsky, doctor for one of the deceased, directly associated these ads with patients’ deaths and was quoted in Forbes saying: “Patients are dying because they are afraid to take the medications prescribed for them due to the fear brought on by these negative and one-sided campaigns.”

West Virginia’s largest media market, Charleston, saw $3.6 million spent in its local television market to air more than 82,000 trial lawyer ads between January and September of 2018. Viewers saw an average of one legal services ad every five minutes, and 16 percent of the ads related to alleged injuries caused by asbestos, pharmaceutical drugs or medical devices.

In the Mountain State’s third largest media market, spending in Clarksburg was significantly less with a total of $300,000 spent to air more than 7,300 trial lawyer advertisements between January and September of last year. Approximately the same amount of ads were related to alleged injuries caused by asbestos, pharmaceutical drugs or medical devices, at 14 percent. There was an uptick in both spending and in the number of ads that aired in the third quarter of last year, leading up to elections.

S.B. 66, sponsored by Sen. Chandler Swope (R – Bluefield), seeks to prohibit such deceptive lawsuit advertising practices. The legislation requires certain disclosures and warnings to protect West Virginians from misleading legal services advertisements.

“This bill aims to protect citizens from deceptive marketing tactics that unfortunately have unintended consequences,” Joyce said. “Passing this bill will help empower West Virginians to make important health decisions with their primary care physicians – not at the suggestion of a television lawyer.”

To view the full report on trial lawyer advertising in West Virginia, visit ATRA.org.

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About the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA): Founded in 1986, ATRA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with affiliated coalitions in more than 40 states. It is the nation’s only organization dedicated exclusively to reforming the civil justice system through education and legislative enactment, and acts as a nationwide network of state-based liability reform coalitions backed by 135,000 grassroots supporters. ATRA works to bring greater fairness, predictability and efficiency to America’s civil justice system. Those efforts have resulted in the enactment of state and federal laws that make the system fairer for everyone.

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