Don’t Fall for Lawyer Referral Services

August 27, 2013
Don’t Fall for Lawyer Referral Services You've probably heard countless radio ads and seen billboards for advertising hotlines like 1-800-ASK-GARY or 411 PAIN. A new attorney hotline in the Tampa Bay area is 1-800-Help-911 These hotlines ask you a few simple questions about your legal needs and they match you with a lawyer for your case. These services solicit consumers to contact them for legal and medical needs following a car accident. If this sounds too good to be true, it is. The truth about most of these lawyer referral services they're not really evaluating your legal needs, instead they're playing a matching game. They go through the criteria to narrow down what type of lawyer you need and then once they've got a practice location, they hand you off to whatever attorney is next in line. Plain and simple: cases are referred in order to make a profit. Lawyer referral services make money by charging attorneys a fee in order to receive referrals; this fee in part helps the referral service advertise for clients Generally, individual lawyers or law firms are placed on the list and as calls for attorneys in their field come up, they move up in the queue until they're given the next case. Referral services have no obligation to screen attorneys in any manner other than having standing with Florida Bar. In fact, they often base their selections willing to pay the most or was the first to show up at the referral services door in the specific geographic locale. As a result, a customer who calls the referral service has no idea what level of expertise or experience in personal injury they will receive. These hotlines are essentially lead generators for attorneys. Consumers calling these referral services are usually not aware that they are not actually contacting an attorney. Furthermore, lawyer referral services such as ASK-GARY and 411-PAIN are increasingly associated with various medical clinics. Therefore when you call a hotline you may be asked or directed to see one of the doctors that is part of, or perhaps operates, the service. In fact, some of the more popular lawyer referral services are often run by Chiropractors only. In these cases clients end up seeing a chiropractor instead of a medical doctor, which could lead to major problems later on down the road. Not only do consumers not receive the legal assistance they think they are getting, or the X-rays and MRIs they may need, but these clinics often eat up the $10,000.00 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance that is available after an accident. When accident victims seek the necessary medical care later on, their PIP benefits are usually exhausted and they must pay for expenses out of pocket. In the end, the referral services and clinics get rich, while the injured see their benefits and chances of recovery disappear. Choosing the right attorney for your injury claim can make a significant difference in your health and financial well-being. It's important to take the time to consider the qualities of the auto accident injury lawyer you'll be hiring in order to hire an attorney that you believe will best serve your needs.

What to Consider:

  • Who owns the referral service?
For-profit services exist to make money. When the service is owned by chiropractors or physical therapists, there is a strong possibility that the referral service exists to direct accident/ personal injury victims to as specific clinic group or organization. A service sponsored or provided by the Florida Bar is more likely to generate impartial options to callers.
  • How quickly do I need a lawyer?
While auto-accident victims are subject to certain deadlines when it comes to claims, an agency advising clients to call from the scene most likely do not have the client's best interests in mind. The scene of the accident is stressful and is one of the worst places to make a decision about legal representation. Researching and evaluating your options a few days after the accident is a more intelligent option.
  • Is the referral service pushy?
A referral service should be informative and provide the client with options; at no point should the consumer feel as if they are being pitched. When contacting a referral service mention an attorney or medical provider friends or family may have recommended to you; a referral service with the client's best interest in mind will welcome suggestion and will have no vested interest in steering you toward one of their listed providers. For-profit lawyer referral services are one of many questionable practices being employed in Florida meant to swindle people out of their money. There are over 10,000 attorneys in the state, many of which handle traffic accidents and personal injury claims. When a lawyer referral service such as 411-PAIN informs you during a radio advertisement; they have cultivated an exclusive network of attorneys; they are flat out attempting to deceive you. In fact, 411-PAID was previously sued by and settled with the Attorney General's office for the State of Florida. In accordance with the settlement, 411 PAIN could no longer claim that the attorneys in their network possess any special qualities as compared to their counterparts. However, 411-PAIN is up to their old tricks by stating they have cultivated a network to meet the needs of the consumer and that only a select group of attorneys can advertise with 411-PAIN. The non-attorney spokesperson failed to state, each member of their exclusive group of attorneys paid a fee to join this service. Click here for a list of attorneys that have paid to become members of 411-PAIN and ASK-GARY.

Matthew Dolman

Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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