Today marked the third time in two weeks that a client has asked me when the minimum of $10,000.00 in personal injury protection (PIP) money was going to be paid. This question and others like it, always spur a similar conversation:
Me: “What do you know about your Florida PIP insurance benefits?”
Client: “Just that 411-PAIN says I get a minimum of $10,000.00 and guarantee of payment for lost wages.”
There has been a variety of problems with the advertising that 411-PAIN uses to convince unsuspecting accident victims to use the service. Further it’s the confusing, often incorrect information that the service disseminates that is most appalling to me. As it turns out, Attorney General Pam Bondi agrees with that sentiment. Last June, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against 411-PAIN to punish the company for calling itself a “lawyer referral service” and for unfair and deceptive trade practices. Much of Ms. Bondi’s ire came from the 411-PAIN ads suggesting that victims could get a minimum of $10,000.00 and work-loss benefits. To learn more about the settlement that the Attorney General’s office entered into with 411-Pain, click here http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-06-04/news/os-411-pain-settlement-florida-20120604_1_change-ads-lawyer-services-pain
In order to clear up the misconceptions, here’s a list of why the Attorney General and I dislike these ads so much.
1. Claim: 411-PAIN is a lawyer referral service
Fact: 411-PAIN is a pain clinic answering service that aggressively suggests that accident victims use it’s pain facilities. These facilities, at times, exhaust all of the victim’s benefits and leave the client with such a lofty balance of medical bills that no lawyer will take the case. Check out the following: http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/2011/08/411-pain_florida_bar_hearing.php
2. Claim: accident victims get a minimum of $10,000.00 in Personal injury protection, plus a guarantee of lost wages.
Fact: The Florida PIP statute require that insurance companies include a provision that will pay for at least 80% of the first $10,000.00 in medical expenses that a person in an accident incurs. Most (not all) policies also include a provision requiring the insurance company to pay 60% of the accident victim’s wages lost because of the accident, but the wage-loss benefits are counted against the $10,000.00 in medical benefits. http://flpipguide.com/tag/411-pain/
3. Claim: 411-PAIN refers victims to “specialized attorneys”.
Fact: 411-PAIN charges attorneys a fee to be included on their list of referrals. The only special qualification is that the attorney be willing and able to pay 411-PAIN’s fee. In their most recent advertisement, 411-Pain’s non-attorney spokesperson, states that “any attorney can advertise but not any attorney can be a part of the 411-Pain network.” The spokesperson goes on to state that 411-Pain has spent many years cultivating a network to ensure their roster of lawyers meets the client’s needs. This is nothing more than puffery and misleading at a minimum. Further, I believe this violates the settlement agreement that 411-Pain entered into with the Attorney General’s office. An unsophisticated consumer would likely infer that the attorneys who are not members of 411-Pain lack a specific skill or quality and that is the reason why they are not members of this so-called exclusive lawyer referral service. In reality, any attorney can become a member if they are willing to pay the monthly fee provided that 411-Pain has not filled up their quota for the specific geographic area. Further, a majority of the elite attorneys in Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Bradenton, Sarasota, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Miami and other Florida municipalities are not members of 411-Pain.
It’s important that you meet your attorney face-to-face and make an educated decision about whether you are selecting the best attorney for your case. Don’t trust non-attorney spokespeople to make decisions for you. At the Dolman Law Group we are up front with our clients about how the case will move forward. We explain the way that insurance law actually works, and take the time to meet with our clients. Just remember 411-PAIN is nothing more than a referral service and is not exclusive by any means. We pride ourselves on not being associated with any lawyer referral service. Further, a majority of our business, is referred to this firm by former and current clients. We thankfully do not need to rely on a referral service for business.
For more information regarding 411-pain and lawyer referral services in general; please check out the following articles: