It used to be easy back in the old days. You had lawyers running Yellow Page ads, and you had lawyers with illegal runners. Think Danny DeVito in Rainmaker. (Fun fact: Claire Danes was in that 1997 movie.) Oh, yeah, and you had people getting personal injury cases the old fashioned way: doing good work and word of mouth.
Times have changed, obviously. In some states, the laws have changed pretty dramatically too. In states like Florida and New York, no-fault laws have lead to a new player in the game: the health care providers.
Matt Dolman, a good lawyer in Florida, has been pointing out some of the weakness in doing this, targeting the problems with what some health care providers have been doing, specifically 411 PAIN and its progeny. Matt argues that while 411 PAIN pushes itself as a “lawyer referral service” it is is really a health care provider answering service that pushes its own services.
Matt is not the only one with concerns. Last June, the Attorney General’s objection to some of 411 PAIN’s practices lead to a lawsuit against the company by the State of Florida.
I think the larger point Matt is making is that this is the information age: people are demanding more information to make choices. A byproduct of the information age is the misinformation age: people putting out false or misleading information because doing so inures to their advantage in some way. The way to best fight that problem, I think, is for as many people as possible to point out when they believe someone else is being deceptive. I think if PAIN 411 has a rebuttal to what Matt has said, they should put it out there and let the consumers decide.