Personal Injury Lawyer Ads on TV Are All Show
Here’s this local yokel comes on the screen stroking his little pet doggie, sitting on a living room couch and dressed in a casual button-down. Hey, he’s a real family man huh? Better trust him, right? So this guy goes on to say how he’s been in the game for thirty years and more and whatever. Nice family guy. Maybe there’s even a shot of him with his wifey and 2.5 kids having fun at the Sunday ice-cream social after church. Salt of the earth dude. He’s got this firm where they all fight for your case, see? Gonna protect your rights, yessiree. Real tough guys. Gonna fight for your rights and all that. Even got a shot of the whole bunch of them marching up the steps of some nameless courthouse. Gonna get some justice by God. Got some women in there too just to make sure we all know he’s no sexist retrograde. Maybe even a minority lawyer trudging up them steps. Hey, he’s everyman. Real liberal-minded. Broad appeal. Gotta love him.
99% of the personal injury cases that sustain these guys’ big TV law firms are car accidents. And 99% of those car accidents are little tiny “whiplash” cases (called “neck poppers” in the trade). You know what I’m talking about. There’s a stop light, a guy stopped, and some dude hits him from behind. Bent bumper. $1,000 of damage and the car’s still drivable. Easy peasy. But let’s broaden the scope a bit. Sure there are variations: A left turning car hits the straight-ahead car. A passenger in a car that hydroplanes or over-corrects or whatever. Buncha variations. Pick your facts. They’re all basically the same: The common denominators are these: (1) it is easy to spot the guy who is at fault and (2) no one is badly hurt. See, cases like this are the big PI firms’ bread and butter. Plenty of these cases out there and no question that the insurance company is going to pay. So, call me cynical, but here’s a typical case:
- You are at a stoplight, dude hits you from behind and cop gives him a ticket for failing to reduce speed.
- Next day you’re sore and go to the local chiropractor
- Two weeks later after cracking your back three times a week and showing you some mumbo-jumbo x-rays Chiro says you’re good
- You go see one of these TV lawyers and he treats you real nice in the nice office with pretty secretaries and even gives you a free Coke with your glossy folder which holds a 33% fee agreement
- TV lawyer makes much of the fact that “if they don’t get money for you, you don’t owe them anything” (which is the thrust of a contingent fee agreement)
- A month later, he calls you in and gives you a check for a big whopping $2,000
Barely Any Work for that 33%
The Bottom Line
Ok. Enough ranting. So, my friend, next time you see that TV lawyer ad that talks about how they’re gonna “protect your rights” and “fight for justice” , next time you see these grease balls marching up the courthouse steps for the sake of some TV ad, you just remember this, if they are charging you the equivalent of $4,000/hr they have no idea about what a fight for justice is and they damn sure don’t care about your rights.