The problem with the hotlines you see on TV.
"Have you been injured in a car accident?"
More Trouble for Gary
You've seen those jarring TV ads and it is with well-founded wonder that you question what kind of person uses those lawyers. You carefully research your doctors, your auto mechanic and a host of other professionals you trust. The legal advice and medical treatment you will likely receive from a 1-800 lawyer may not be in your best interest.
Traditional law firm - accident victim relationship
An attorney or law firm hired by an accident victim is bound by professional ethics and Bar Association rules to represent only the interests of their client. Legal fees are paid a pre-negotiated portion of the settlement they recover on behalf of their client. Part of this recovery typically involves actual or estimated medical costs, and there is a clear absence of relationship between the lawyer and the medical provider . The lawyer or law firm holds the same interest as the client in that they receive the best medical treatment that serves the accident victim's needs.
Hotline lawyer - accident victim relationship
The largest hotline advertised in Minnesota is actually owned by a chiropractor, who just happens to own a large medical facility. Accident victims are referred to local lawyers who refer the chiropractic work back through the hotline owner / chiropractor's clinics.
An obvious ethical conflict exists when the lawyer who is supposed to be representing your best interests steers you toward a particular healthcare provider. Because your recovery is based on medical fees, this pre-established relationship can effect your level of care, types of treatments and the medical fees you must pay. One case in Florida (involving the same hotline as advertises in Minnesota) uncovered that the law firm working for the hotline did not allow the accident victim's private health insurance to pay for part of the medical costs. Instead, the firm forced the victim to pay a higher cash rate, resulting in a drastically reduced settlement figure.
How do I avoid the pitfalls of these hotlines?
Plain and simple: don't use them. Ethical, competent accident and injury lawyers are willing to take your case, and represent your interests exclusively and aggressively. Your lawyer should not have any relationship with any medical facility, or in any way be compensated for referring accident/injury clients to medical providers.
Understand your options
If you have been injured, you have options. Before signing anything (with the insurance company OR any type of hotline) get a second opinion. Most reputable accident and injury law firms provide a free consultation to new clients. Contact Schroeder & Mandel, at 877-426-8740 click here to email.
For more information about some of the problems with the lawyer hotlines, see the articles below: