Louisiana attorney ads should change in 2021; Therefore the rules are not enforced | Choose
He looks like a normal guy. He is nameless, as is usually the case in one of the dozen of personal injury attorney commercials that appear daily on Louisiana television, on highway billboards, on social media, and elsewhere.
These are the ads that should change on New Year’s Day – but not because officials aren’t enforcing the new law.
In this randomly selected commercial, our regular guest climbs behind the wheel of a new pickup. He speaks of excruciating back pain he suffered in a car accident, but the insurance didn’t pay for it. “I was doing what I see on TV the whole time, I called Morris Bart. He gave me $ 250,000, it’s that simple. “
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What remains unsaid is how much of this $ 250,000 went to Bart, Louisiana’s most famous “TV lawyer” in fees and expenses. The fee structures are agreed in writing in advance, but the amount varies from case to case and lawyer to lawyer.
In general, however, an attorney dealing with soft tissue injuries from a vehicle accident will receive around a third, or $ 82,500, in this example.
Critics mockingly call the ads “jackpot justice,” which equates wrecked cars with lottery winnings and leads to people filing more lawsuits.
While no studies show a causal relationship between advertising and the number of lawsuits, clipping attorney ads was “at least all they talked about” when business and insurance met with lawmakers to begin drafting laws to change the Louisiana legal system to begin, said Bob Kleinpeter, a Baton Rouge personal injury attorney who does not advertise and was the only non-business member of the task force calling for lower auto insurance rates.
The American Tort Reform Association, a Washington, DC-based advocacy group, found in May 2019 that television viewers in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport saw more than 250,000 ads – about one per minute – for attorneys, lawsuits, and legal services over the last six Months of 2018.
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But lawyers have the same rights as car dealers to sell their products. Legislators have circumvented this hurdle by demanding in advertisements how much a customer received in a particular case, and also how much was deducted in fees and costs. Louisiana lawmakers overwhelmingly passed two bills earlier this year, both of which require disclosure of fees when the full amount is reported. The new law came into force on January 1st.
Bart said he would wait in the Louisiana Supreme Court before changing his commercials.
“Louisiana attorneys are regulated by the Louisiana Supreme Court, rather than lawmakers, under our state constitution,” said Bart. “If our Supreme Court takes any action that requires it, I will review it at that point and decide whether to challenge the constitutionality.
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Bart points out that the only legal way to restrict commercial freedom of expression is to create a record of evidence showing harm to the public. “In this case, there is no record of advertising in any way harming Louisiana citizens or promoting lawsuits. I consider it unconstitutional, “said Bart.
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However, there is strong evidence that insurance companies are offering fewer New Orleans and Louisiana drivers to resolve car wreck injuries than other cities like Atlanta, he said. “Obviously, if you don’t offer people the right amount of money, you’ll force people to file lawsuits.”
The enforcement agency is also waiting for the Louisiana Supreme Court.
“If these professional rules change, if they change to include additional regulatory requirements for advertising attorneys, the day we start enforcing them will be,” said Charles B. Plattsmier, Chief Disciplinary Counsel of the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Plank.
The Louisiana Supreme Court released a statement Friday saying the judges “are investigating whether or not to introduce additional rules for soliciting lawyers. There is no timetable for completing the study. “
That the judges of the Supreme Court had to weigh up should not come as a surprise to the legislature.
“They know something needs to be done,” said Republican Senator Patrick Connick, a Marrero attorney who supported Senate Law 115, during the committee hearings on the judges. “We hope the Supreme Court will bring this under its umbrella.”
Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards, who had headed a small-town general practice in Amite prior to his election, signed Connick’s Bill converting Bill 231 into law.
“Legal advertising is a black eye,” said Senator Heather Cloud, the Turkey Creek Republican who filed the other measure, Senate Bill 395. She said lawyers made false promises about large payouts, encouraging injured people to sue companies.
Your bill was also approved by the legislature with an overwhelming majority. Edwards vetoed the move, in part to avoid confusion and in part because Cloud allowed Attorney General Jeff Landry to enforce the rules that the governor said “are likely to violate the state and federal constitutions.”
“Read the constitution. The Supreme Court is the body to make and enforce these rules, not the legislature, ”said Jody Amedee, a former Senator from Gonzales who is a name partner at an advertising company. He points out that his company’s commercials don’t feature customers bragging about how much compensation they have received.
“The public perception of lawyers is probably not that good and that kind of advertising hurts,” Amedee said. Still, one of the most effective ways for a lawyer to get his name out there in public, he added, is advertising.