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Ben Burnside
Ben Burnside
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Misleading tort reform TV ads inflate "cost" of frivolous lawsuits

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As fellow Injury Board blogger Michael Ferrara points out, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is once again spreading misinformation about trial attorneys in an attempt to rally support for what is disingenuously termed tort reform.

In a commercial that is running on cable networks nationwide, the Chamber claims that so-called “frivolous and abusive lawsuits” are costing American families $3,500 annually for everyday goods and services. But the ad is blatantly misleading, according to an analysis by FactCheck.org. In fact, the lead author of the study that the ad is based on said that the ad makers were misleading in how they represented the results of his study.

According to Factcheck.org, the Chamber of Commerce manipulated and misquoted research to come up with its inflammatory commercial. The $3,500 figure that the ad cites includes the cost of all lawsuits — not just abusive ones — and also is based on some fuzzy math.

Unfortunately, commercials like this one really resonate with the public, which is not surprising considering the billions of dollars a year that the insurance industry spends to paint all Plaintiffs, and the attorneys who represent them, in a bad light. Unsurprisingly, it comes down to the insurance companies’ bottom line. The more the American public is inundated with the message that all attorneys are greedy trial lawyers and all personal injury lawsuits are frivolous, the more money the insurance companies get to avoid paying on the vast majority of cases that are legitimate. The truth is that most trial attorneys are honest, hardworking advocates who stand up against the negative stereotypes and seek justice for the downtrodden and the wrongly injured. I applaud my colleagues in the Bar and in the American Association for Justice in their efforts to debunk myths and messages like this one from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with our own public relations and advertising campaigns.

Related Information: Tort Reform Information