ICJL not surprised at spike in med mal lawyer advertising

By Aricka Flowers | Sep 10, 2009


If you think you've noticed an increase in the number of TV commercials advertising the services of medical malpractice law firms, you may be right.

A recent study, conducted by the Campaign Media Analysis Group and sponsored by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, found that the rate of television advertising by medical malpractice law firms has grown exponentially over the last five years.

According to the study, the number of TV ads geared towards potential medical malpractice plaintiffs has jumped from about 10,150 ads in 2004 to more than 156,000 commercials in 2008. That's nearly a 1,400 percent increase in four years, the study indicated.

One legal expert is not surprised.

Ed Murnane, president of the Illinois Civil Justice League, said the jump in medical malpractice advertising could have happened sooner if it weren't for preponderance of asbestos-related mesothelioma ads.

"I think the plaintiffs attorneys are increasing all methods of reaching the public through television and print advertising," Murnane said. "Medical malpractice ads may not have been as wide-spread because there has been such a glut of asbestos and mesothelioma advertising that there hasn't been room for medical malpractice ads – but that is obviously changing."

Murnane speculated that plaintiffs attorneys could be 'laying low' in terms of medical malpractice advertising in Illinois until the state's high court rules on the constitutionality of a 2005 caps on non-economic damages law.

"Illinois is in somewhat of a different situation because we are awaiting the decision by the Illinois Supreme Court on the challenge to an Illinois medical liability reform law," said Murnane. "I think the plaintiffs' attorneys might be laying low while that decision is pending."

The rise in TV ads for medical malpractice firms comes at a steep price. According to study, the amount of money spent on such ads topped off at nearly $62 million dollars in 2008; which is scores more than the $3.2 million that was spent in the same area four years earlier.

Murnane also suggested that the spike in medical malpractice TV advertisements could also stem from an ironic change in the public's mindset about medical malpractice.

"It may mean the trial lawyers are worried that potential 'victims' are realizing that they are not really 'victims' of medical malpractice," Murnane said. "And the trial lawyers want to make sure they understand there are riches to be won – by the attorneys, certainly, if not by the so-called 'victims'."

The Madison County Record is owned by the Institute for Legal Reform, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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