Finding a doctor after you’ve been in a car wreck is one of the more important decisions that someone can make in terms of the ultimate outcome of their case. There’s nothing wrong with a lawyer referring a client to a doctor after a car accident. The big question is whose interest is being served in that referral.
What I write about in my Five Mistakes book is that if you walk into a lawyer’s office and there is a stack of business cards from Dr. Jones on the desk and every case that lawyer gets goes to Dr. Jones, the clients best interest may not be served there because you wonder why do they have this close relationship. Who is the lawyer most concerned about… the client who is being referred or their relationship that they have with that doctor, and vice versa?
I can tell you absolutely that if you have a case that ends up in a lawsuit and it can’t be settled for some reason, the first thing that any defense lawyer wants to find out is if there is a relationship between Dr. Jones and the lawyer and how did that referral get made. If they can establish that relationship then they can suggest to the jury that maybe this doctor isn’t quite as unbiased as people think that doctors should be.
There’s nothing wrong with a lawyer making a referral. We on occasion make referrals. If a client needs a particular type of doctor, we will suggest places where they can find that doctor. But I will talk to clients about this very issue and let them understand that this is not a relationship based on multiple referrals. This is a doctor with particular skills that they need.
In the final analysis, ask yourself whose interest is being served. This is something that clients need to be thoughtful about when there has been a referral made by a lawyer.
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