You have been in a serious car accident. You are in pain. You don’t know what to do. You don’t know how your medical bills will be paid. You don’t know how your car is going to be fixed. Should you call an attorney? Or maybe you should call an injury help line. Consider this when you make your decision.
I read an interesting article in the Bloomberg News about 1-800-ASK-GARY, a “referral network” that advertises heavily in Louisville, Kentucky for car accident cases.
The article talks about three individuals who were injured in car accidents that called 1-800-ASK-GARY, which is a medical referral service they saw advertised on television. All were referred to a clinic owned by Gary Kompothecras, Physicians Group. Two of his three were referred to a law firm that was part of the group, Winters & Yonker.
The highlights of the stories of Jennifer Malina, Kathleen Weston and Sharon Langford include:
- Medical bills that were reduced to about half.
- Treatment for areas where there was no pain complaints.
- Confidential complaints to the Florida Bar Association.
- Non-use of available health insurance.
- A flight from Kentucky to Florida for surgery.
There are 50 Physician’s Group clinics specializing in treatment in car-crash medicine. The ASK-GARY services is one of Florida’s 72 registered referral networks with hotlines such as 1-800-411-PAIN, 1-800-NeedHelp and 1-305-NO-FAULT. These networks also operate in other states such as Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Tennessee and Texas.
According to Captain Steven Smith, Florida’s Insurance Fraud Unit is conducting a criminal probe of accident-referral services. Smith told the Florida Bar Association that the State investigators are trying to determine whether clinics or lawyers make unlawful payments for referrals and whether patients are being treated for non-existing injuries. The FBI wants to find out if lawyers are directing treatment based on how much insurance coverage patients have.
According to Steven Butron, attorney for the clinics, Physician’s Group complies with all “laws, regulations and rules of ethics”. Kompothecras said in a statement, “We have always held strict adherence to the highest quality of care. We have served thousands of patients with no malpractice claims to date”.
Every accident victim has the ability to seek the lawyers and medical care of their choice. It will be interesting to see the results of the investigation by the Florida Bar of these referral hotlines. It is important to choose the doctor and lawyer that are best for YOU if you are the victim of a car accident.
There has been a crack down on runners for attorneys in Kentucky. The runners law prohibits the direct solicitation of car accident victims by attorneys for 30 days following the car accident. Most injured car crash victims are looking for someone to trust by calling a referral line. They make a phone call to be referred to a medical facility and a car accident lawyer that is best for their situation and circumstances. What they don’t know is that there may only be one medical facility on the referral list. They are being sent there no matter what their injury is. A broken arm, whiplash or a head injury may all be referred to the same place. The advertisement should tell the public this! I would like to know what you think. Should this be information that is easily available to a caller of an injury help line?