Florida’s CFO Jeff Atwater is calling on the Florida Bar the ban so called”referral services” that have inundated the radio and TV waves. These companies trick the public into thinking they are actual Law Firms or Doctors and make misleading promises, usually regarding the $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection Benefits (PIP). Since they are not lawyers, advertisements like these do not have to comply with the strict advertising guidelines that the Florida Bar imposes on its lawyer members. Often, personal injury and accident lawyers, especially in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties, join these referral services as a way to skirt the advertising rules that are in place to protect the public. Lawyers are not permitted to have misleading advertisements, but these referral services are.
In Florida, if you have Personal Injury protection Coverage (PIP), your insurance company will usually pay 80% of the first $10,000 of your Doctor or Hospital bills, regardless of whether the accident was your fault. PIP coverage will also often pay for lost wages from work due to the accident. These referral service advertisements mislead the public buy making claims like, “we can get you $10,000, even if the accident is not your fault.” Of course they do not tell you that you will likely not receive any cash in your pocket and that this $10,000 will go to the doctors, which they will choose for you. (And often get a kickback or some referral benefit)
Below is the original article as published in the Florida Bar News.
Below is an email that Daniel Berman, Managing Partner of the South Florida Injury Law Firm of Berman & Tsombanakis sent to Florida State Representative Rick Kriseman of District 53 (St. Petersberg and Clearwater Florida area) who is sponsoring a bill to regulate private attorney/medical referral services. Berman & Tsombanakis LLC strongly supports legislation such as this. Feel free to email Florida House Representative Kriseman at firstname.lastname@example.org or your own State Representative.
I just want to voice my support for bill regarding the regulation of private attorney/medical referral services. As an attorney who practices personal injury law in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties, I can’t stress enough how badly this regulation is needed. Companies like 411 pain and the like are basically fronts that enable big personal injury law firms to skirt the Florida bar rules regarding advertising and solicitation. The stories that I have heard from clients regarding these referral services and the big PI firms would amaze you, ranging from clients being given significant amounts of cash from PIP doctors, to a clients who received numerous unsolicited calls at home from these services after an accident.
Although you might not get much support from the big money PI firms for this bill, please know that most of the solo and small practitioners who still run ethical practices strongly support your efforts.
Daniel M. Berman Esq.
Berman & Tsombanakis LLC
ph: 954 764-6099 | fax: 954 728-8882
600 SW 4th Ave. Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315
The South Florida Injury Attorneys at Berman & Tsombanakis LLC strongly support the movement to restrict these referral services as they easily mislead the public and negatively impact the legal system.