Jan 2

Is the End Coming for 1-800-ASK-GARY and Other Lawyer Referral Services?

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We have all seen the commercials and heard the radio spots-after a car accident, call 1-800-ASK GARY or call 411-PAIN from the accident scene. If some get their way, soon you may not see them any longer.

According to a report on TBO.com, the Florida Bar, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a state legislator from St. Petersburg are all taking aim at the 1-800-Ask-Gary hot line and similar lawyer and medical referral services.

A Florida Bar (the organization that governs lawyer conduct) committee is proposing new regulations to prevent abuses by lawyer referral services. For example, a new Bar regulation would ensure that accident victims initiate contact with lawyers. This recommendation and others will be presented to the Bar’s governing board in the spring.

Florida CFO Atwater also wants to see changes. In November, he asked the Florida Bar to ban lawyer referral services. His letter to the Bar mentioned the “incestuous interactions” between lawyers and health care providers who belong to the referral services.

Thirdly, there may be State legislation on this issue. A bill by state Rep. Rick Kriseman, a St. Petersburg Democrat, would give accident hot line callers more choices in health care providers. Kriseman’s bill would require such hot lines to refer patients to nonaffiliated clinics, as well. “They shouldn’t be able to refer to themselves as a referral service if they’re only sending you to one clinic,” Kriseman said Friday. “That’s just a marketing arm for your facility.”

As a personal injury attorney who helps those legitimately injured in car accidents, I feel that too much advertising decreases the credibility of those who are actually injured. Potential jurors have the mistaken impression that the majority of the people are not hurt in car accidents. In my practice, that’s not the case. Sure, some people are initially injured and treat for a period of time and do get better from their automobile accident. Those are the cases that are closed and don’t get in front of a jury. However, many people are injured in varied severity and deserve protection in our judicial system. Will the elimination of doctor-based lawyer referral services eliminate the uphill battle an injured person has in the courtroom? I don’t think so.

Education is the answer. Education of what your legal rights are after a car accident. Education of what your injuries, if any, are. Education of the true facts of how someone can be injured in a car accident notwithstanding the amount of property damage.

So, Florida CFO Atwater, the Florida Bar and the Florida Legislature do what you think politically you need to do. I will stay here and educate my clients and make sure their doctors do the same thing while at the same time, try to educate others on how a car accident can impact a person’s life in so many ways.

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Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents and other personal injury matters. His Tampa Bay personal injury law firm–Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes–has been caring for clients since 1955. Click here to schedule a free case consultation with Attorney Matthew Noyes.

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