In the last few years, they’ve been impossible to avoid: an onslaught
of radio ads, TV ads, and billboards for companies calling themselves
medical/legal referral services. These companies promise to arrange medical
care and legal consultations for people involved in
Because of concerns about how these companies operate and the claims they
make, the Florida Bar recently formed a committee to study them. The result
of the committee’s work was a scathing report released in July 2012.
A few passages from the committe’s report will get the point across.
For example, the committee cited a 2010 article from a Miami publication (the
Miami New Times)which contained the following statements about one such company:
In addition to outlining the history of 411-PAIN, the article also focused
on its operational practices with a case history of unsophisticated accident
victims who called 411-PAIN and received a variety of treatment modalities
they did not understand and for which no explanation was given.
According to the committee, the
New Times article also noted 411-PAIN’s aggressive marketing program. The article
observed that 411-PAIN “made no secret about courting African American
and Latino consumers through R&B and hip hop radio stations, catchy
jingles and outlandish spokespersons.”
Lawyers associated with 411-PAIN were also criticized in the article for
failing to look out for their clients and described other unsavory practices
at some referral services. One witness was apparently threatened by his
former employer because he made unflattering statements about that employer
at a public hearing.
If true, these reports are deeply troubling. People involved in auto accidents
suffer enough. They should not be manipulated or duped by organizations
who want to cash in on their no-fault automobile insurance benefits. They
should also not be lured with the promise of benefits which actually will
be used to pay health care providers. This is especially true in cases
where the care and treatment does little to help the person recover from injury.
The committee’s report ended with recommendations for increased restrictions
on lawyers who participate in referral services. We applaud the committee
for bringing this matter to the public’s attention and making its
recommendations. We hope the Florida Bar will take the recommendations
seriously and act quickly.
In the meantime, we urge auto accident victims to be very careful when
making decisions about medical care and legal representation. Two old
sayings apply here: (1) buyer beware, and (2) if it sounds too good to
be true, it probably is.
Anyone interested in reading further can see the full report on the Bar’s
website, www.floridabar.org, under
Report of the Special Committee on Lawyer Referral Services.