The Florida Bar is finally paying attention to the 1-800-411-PAIN Referral Service, in part because other lawyers have been complaining.
411-PAIN is a Broward-based network of chiropractors and lawyers that solicits clients who have been in car accidents. Although many of its ads have been approved by the Florida Bar, some other lawyers find the commercials distasteful.
Take this March letter to the bar from Jonathan Neuman, a South Florida personal injury attorney who is fed up with the ads that tempt viewers with promises of payoffs from their personal injury protection (PIP) insurance:
"I am writing to STRONGLY urge you to regulate the for-profit lawyer referral services. Down here in South Florida there are a plethora of sleazy referral services that produce saturation advertising that is deceptive, dishonest, and demeaning to the profession," he writes.
"For example, the so-called '411-Pain' network says 'injured persons may be entitled to up to $10,000 in benefits...' without explaining that all the PIP benefits go to the doctors, not the client."
St. Petersburg attorney Charles Scott, who is currently suing another attorney referral service, had this to say to the bar about 411-PAIN:
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"Their advertising is totally deceptive and their ads feature a policeman in uniform telling callers that they will receive $100,000 or more if they call 800-411-PAIN. The promise of monetary gain in any lawyer referral service commercial serves no purpose other than to entice and deceive innocent accident victims."
But according to Tim Chinaris, attorney for 411-PAIN, the bar approved the ads that Neuman and Scott find so offensive. The Pulp will be examining those ads -- and the bar's lukewarm response to them -- in more detail, so stay tuned.