Referring legal clients to doctors is more complicated than it sounds. Many clients come to an attorney after an accident unsure about their next steps, and they may ask for a physician referral. When this happens, it’s essential that you’re careful about how you proceed.
Personal injury attorneys and doctors are often familiar with each other since both parties work with people injured in accidents. At the New York Spine Institute, our orthopedic specialist, Dr. Timothy Roberts, is well acquainted with the litigation process, including all the documentation needed to solidify his findings and ultimately benefit your client.
The defense may try to expose a relationship between you and your client’s chosen doctor, which can result in a low payout or even none at all. That’s why it’s essential to know the best way to refer legal clients to a specialist.
The “Kiss of Death”
As an attorney, your job is to help your client. You may think you’re helping them by referring them to a doctor who you know can help. Some clients may not have the money to see a doctor who requires self-pay. Many medical practices that work with personal injury clients will accept a letter of protection (LOP), which means the doctors will get paid after you settle the claim.
However, this strategy can kill your client’s case if the defense can find any “suspicious” relationship patterns between you and the doctor. They may allege that you are partners in a money-making scheme, where you refer clients to a doctor who lies to get a better claim, and the doctor refers patients back to you. Any “kickbacks” are also likely to be discovered, which will go poorly for you or your client.
If there is a pattern of referrals between a doctor and an attorney, the doctor may appear biased. Some professionals call specialist referrals for legal clients the “kiss of death” for accident cases for this reason.
The Best Way to Refer Legal Clients to Doctors
When referring legal clients to doctors, it’s best to follow an ethical strategy that maintains the case’s integrity.
Know Multiple Doctors
You should know a few different doctors and specialists who are familiar with personal injury claims. They need to be familiar with this area of law because they must document the injury correctly. If you can identify multiple competent doctors, you can give your client several options to research and let them decide for themselves.
Consider that a doctor’s testimony will seem less credible if your law firm has referred several patients to their practice. Avoid setting up referral relationships with doctors.
Talk with your client about why you’re referring them to a set of doctors. Whether your client needs a specialist or a doctor who accepts LOPs, discuss your reasons for the referral.
Ensure your client knows they can choose any doctor they’d like, as long as that doctor is familiar with personal injury claims. Overall, we recommend keeping your client’s best interests in mind.
What to Do When Your Legal Client Asks for a Physician Referral
If your personal injury client asks for a referral, you can send them to the New York Spine Institute. Our prestigious orthopedic spine specialist, Dr. Timothy T. Roberts, is committed to a high standard of care for patients with accident-related injuries. He perfectly blends proper documentation with effective treatment to ensure your client gets the care they need to recoup losses and recover. Dr. Roberts understands what it takes to work with worker’s compensation attorneys to coordinate care. Contact us today for more information.