Non-Attorney Spokespeople Giving Legal Advice…Consumer Beware

You heard it before, “I’m (insert name here) and I’m a non-attorney spokesperson for 411-Pain” or “As a non-attorney spokesperson for 1-800 ask Gary, I can tell you…”  These 411 Pain commercials are so common that everyone I know in the Tampa Bay area can recite the 411 Pain song lyrics by heart.  This very morning I had a client tell me that when he was in the hospital, he kept hearing the 411-pain song in his head.

The non-attorney spokespeople get on the radio and tell you that after an auto accident you should call 411 Pain right away because they’re a lawyer referral service.  Investigative journalists, have looked into what 411 Pain is and multiple professional journalists classify companies like 411-Pain as answering services for pain clinics (http://www.wtsp.com/news/article/257970/19/Pam-Bondi--411-Pain-must-change-ads)

As it turns out, 411 Pain was previously found to have referred accident victims to pain clinics that are directly associated with the answering service based on an investigation and expose conducted by WTSP.  These clinics routinely run up patient bills and exhaust the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage within the first month.  This often leaves accident victims in a position where they are at the end of their PIP coverage and they’ve received inadequate treatment to address their injuries. 

These facts are compounded by the misinformation that 411 pain commercials disseminate.  In addition to the catchy jingle and mind-numbing 411 Pain song lyrics, the commercials feature a non-attorney spokesperson making sweeping statements that may be misinterpreted by a unsophisticated consumer.  For example, in a recent commercial a spokesperson references the exact amount of attorneys licensed with the Florida Bar but states “there is only one 411-pain.”  A consumer who is not sophisticated, may infer the wrong idea and potentially assume that being a member of 411 pain connotes a skill set that other attorneys do not possess. 

Three questions that stick out in my mind when I hear 411 Pain’s non-attorney spokespeople giving advice on how to handle the traumatic aftermath of a car accident are:

  1. What exactly is a non-attorney spokesperson?
  2. What qualifies a non-attorney spokesperson to give pseudo-legal advice to accident victims (i.e., telling them who they should call following an accident)?

After limited research I came up with the answers to these questions.

  1. What exactly is a non-attorney spokesperson?  411 Pain non-attorney spokespeople are…NOT ATTORNEYS.  They may be actors, voice actors, call center workers, or homeless people saying something into a microphone for five dollars.  There’s no telling who these people are; but one thing is certain, they are not licensed Florida personal injury attorneys like the lawyers at the Dolman Law Group.
  2. What qualifies a non-attorney spokesperson to give pseudo-legal advice to accident victims?  NOTHING.  The Florida Bar Association governs the legal community in the state of Florida.  The Florida Rules of Professional Conduct lay out ethical standards for lawyers and other people working in the legal profession.  These rules specifically dictate that only attorneys who are licensed to practice law in the state of Florida are legally permitted to give legal advice.  Non-attorneys are people who have either failed to pass the Florida bar exam, been deemed unfit to practice law by the Florida Bar, or who have not attended law school.  Whichever of these classifications applies to the non-attorney spokespeople of 411 Pain, as a consumer you should be concerned about who is giving you advice on how to protect your legal rights.  Rather follow the directions of a 411 Pain promo, you should speak to an experienced, licensed Florida Personal Injury Attorney at the Dolman Law Group.

I can’t tell you what 411 Pain lawyers do to protect their clients, but I can tell you that the injury law attorneys at Dolman Law Group bring personal service to all of our personal injury cases.  Clients are given direct access to the firm’s experienced car accident attorneys by way of personal cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses.  Our clients have the security of knowing that the Dolman Law Group doesn’t have loyalty to a lawyer referral service such as 411 Pain, 1-800-ASK-Gary, or any of the associated medical groups.  If you are in an accident, the first person you should speak with is a physician or a licensed Florida personal injury attorney. 

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