09262017Headline:

Orlando, Florida

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Ed Normand
Ed Normand
Attorney • (866) 735-1102 Ext 336

Who is the Lawyer Beholden …To the Client or the Doctor?

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This is the typical scenario:

  1. A person is involved in an accident.
  2. That person is injured.
  3. The injured person calls a lawyer referral service.
  4. The referral service owns the medical clinic and Lawyer referral service.
  5. The lawyer referral service refers the client to an attorney.
  6. The client treats for their injuries at a medical clinic owned by the referral service
  7. The doctor bills for the medical treatment.
  8. The attorney settles the case.
  9. The doctor’s office wants payment for the medical bills from the settlement.
  10. The client thinks that the treatment costs were too much and that the medical bills were too high.
  11. The client does not want to pay the full bills and asks the lawyer to seek a reduction to the reasonable and customary charges.
  12. What does the lawyer do? Who does the Lawyer work for?
  13. If the lawyer receives 10 cases…20 cases…200 cases…2,000 cases…from the lawyer referral service who is the attorney going to protect? 1 client? Or the referral service who sends the attorney a lot of cases?
  14. Do you think a lawyer can serve two masters in this situation?
  15. Would you feel protected by a lawyer that gets lots of cases from the same medical service that is treating you?
  16. Finally, is your lawyer getting cases from the medical provider, owned or related to the lawyer referral service? You can see a list of all lawyers registered with lawyer referral services. Check it out you may be surprised about what you find!

Recently the Florida Bar addressed this situation. Under the current rules, the Florida Bar requires lawyer referral services to register with the Bar, disclose the names of lawyers participating in the referral service, maintain adherence to the bar rules for advertising, the referral services must agree to not use the “Bar Approved” tag line in any advertising, and the Florida Bar Board of Governors also added a newly suggested rule that will require the lawyer referral services to agree that they may be removed from the list registered referral services if there is a successful complaint about their activities.

The Florida Bar has made this decision in an effort to protect the general public by limiting potential conflicts that arise when a lawyer represents a client who has also been referred to a treatment facility, owned by the referral service.

What are your thoughts?