Dear Friends and Clients:
I wanted to take this opportunity to bring to your attention that recently, four local personal injury attorneys have been charged criminally for engaging in kickback schemes with tow truck drivers, tow yards and medical providers. Simply put, it is alleged that these attorneys were being paid cash for new cases, which is a clear violation of Florida’s criminal statutes. Even though the names and photos of these attorneys have been published by the Sun-Sentinel, I have decided not to name them out of respect for their families. Although these specific attorneys are innocent until proven guilty, those of us who do this for a living have known for years that these kickback schemes have been ongoing.
In fact, as a young attorney over 20 years ago, I met with a local chiropractor for lunch and he offered me $2,000 cash for each client that I referred to his clinic for treatment. Think about that for a moment. This was the first time I had met this chiropractor but he felt completely comfortable in soliciting me to commit a crime. Without hesitation, I rejected his offer and ended the lunch early. I know I will be accused of sounding self-righteous but I have always advocated that all ‘honest’ plaintiff’s attorneys have a duty to speak out when fraud is being committed. A fraud of this nature further tarnishes the reputation of injury attorneys and as we know, our reputations as a whole are already tarnished.
Other types of auto insurance fraud hurt consumers in the form of higher insurance premiums. Estimates vary greatly but the Coalition for Insurance Fraud puts the cost of fraudulent claims in the range of $80 billion dollars annually. While I think that is an inflated number presented by a group that is friendly to the insurance industry, once again, there is no denying that fraud exists and that it increases our insurance premiums. As I have always done, I am advising all clients and friends to report any incidences of attorney fraud. If you are in an accident and someone in a tow truck, tow yard or emergency room approaches you with an attorney referral, they may be engaging in a crime. If someone contacts you without your permission–either on your cell phone or home telephone line–and attempts to refer you to a lawyer, they are likely working with a lawyer who is aware of their actions. This constitutes a clear violation of the Florida Bar rules and may also be a crime.
Finally, choose your attorney wisely because it will likely mean the difference between a bad or good settlement amount. Those injury attorneys who illegally solicit patients often work on a high volume/low margin business model. They don’t care if they don’t obtain just compensation for you because they have so many cases that they earn a profit on turnover and sheer volume. Simply put, this means they will not fight for you on those cases where you deserve a higher settlement. I hope all of you have recovered from the recent storm. If you need anything at all, please do not hesitate to contact me at the office. (954) 356-0006.
Gary T. Lazarus, Esq.
1625 North Commerce Parkway
Weston, Florida 33326