Florida Lawyers Dump $13 Million Into TV Ads

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Florida Lawyers Dump $13 Million Into TV Ads New report shines a light on the 113,000 local ads from 2019’s third quarter; $71 million spent on national ads JANUARY 28, […]


Florida Lawyers Dump $13 Million Into TV Ads

New report shines a light on the 113,000 local ads from 2019’s third quarter; $71 million spent on national ads

JANUARY 28, 2020 (WASHINGTON) – Florida television viewers saw approximately 113,000 local legal services advertisements in the third quarter of 2019 (July-September). The lawyers, their firms and others who purchased these local legal services ads spent $13 million during the three-month span.

In addition to the local ads, Florida viewers also were exposed to $71 million worth of national legal services ads. These 45,000 ads were shown on national broadcasts as well as cable networks, as opposed to just airing locally. Approximately 60% of those ads solicited claims related to alleged injuries caused by pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices and agricultural products.

Television viewers were exposed to 39 days’ worth of local trial lawyer advertisements in the three-month span. That’s almost four times the amount of vacation time the average American gets each year. To see every ad that aired, you would have to spend all of your vacation time, plus all your weekends for the first quarter of the year watching lawyer’s TV ads.

To further put into perspective how frequently local legal services ads run on Tampa televisions, when compared with ads for clothing stores, they run 13 times as often. When compared with ads for pizza delivery and restaurants around Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, legal services ads run nine times as often.

Nearly half of Floridians believe lawsuit abuse is an issue in their state, and more than one-third are concerned by the overwhelmed court system. Legal services ads recruiting more clients further exacerbate this problem.

The new report from the American Tort Reform Association comes as ads are gaining new attention from federal regulators. The Federal Trade Commission sent letters to various law firms and others, flagging their ads soliciting clients for personal injury lawsuits against drug manufacturers as potentially “unlawful.”

A Public Opinion Strategies survey found that three-quarters of Americans saw ads by law firms about pharmaceutical lawsuits in 2016. Further, the survey states 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.

“Misleading advertisements drum up fear in an attempt to gain clients, but there are serious repercussions and in the worst scenarios, the cost can be human life,” Tiger Joyce, President of the American Tort Reform Association said.

A recent FDA study shows the real-life consequences of these ads. The report found 66 reports of adverse events following patients discontinuing their blood thinner medication (Pradaxa, Xarelto, Eliquis or Savaysa) after viewing a lawyer advertisement.

The median patient age was 70 and 98% stopped medication use without consulting with their doctor. Thirty-three patients experienced a stroke, 24 experienced another serious injury, and seven people died.

Dr. Ilana Kutinsky, doctor for one of the deceased, stated before Congress: “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.”

“Viewers are inundated with the fill-in-the-blank ‘If you or a loved one’-type ads, and this report highlights the need for legislation to protect the public from false and misleading advertisements,” Joyce said.

Florida state Senator Tom Wright has introduced S.B. 1288, which addresses legal advertisements by aiming to ensure consumers are not misled and that protected health information is not misused.

During their 2019 legislative sessions, both Texas and Tennessee passed bills addressing the deceptive nature of many of these ads. Texas’s bill created parameters to ensure that consumers are aware these are paid advertisements by lawyers –not government-sanctioned announcements. Tennessee’s bill disallows use of government agency logos, the word “recall” if a product hasn’t been recalled and requires disclosure that the ads are paid advertisements for lawyers.

Florida was a mainstay on ATRA’s list of “Judicial Hellholes” for many years, but in the 2019-2020 report was moved to the “Watch List.”

“Taking action on deceptive legal advertisements would be another positive step for the Sunshine State to work toward finally shaking its reputation as a Judicial Hellhole,” Joyce said.

View the full report on legal services advertising in Florida at ATRA.org.

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