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Benjamin W. Glass, III & Assoc. PC

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Lawyer Recommended Doctor: I visited a Northern Virginia personal injury attorney for a free consultation about my car accident case. I had not seen a doctor. This lawyer had a stack of business cards of doctors, physical therapists and chiropractors on his desk. He told me he could set me up on referal and I wouldn't need to pay anything up front to visit one of these health care professionals. Is this a good idea?

Be wary of any lawyer who has a stable of doctors to refer you to. This is a scam and it could ruin the credibility of your case.

Local judges call this doctor-lawyer relationship the "kiss of death" to a claim. (One long-time Virginia attorney was disbarred because he referred clients to a chiropractor and then told his clients to lie about the referral when asked in deposition.)

The problem with an attorney to health care provider referral is that Northern Virginia jurors are highly suspicious of lawyers and health care providers who have one of these referral relationships. While the client may not know how many of that law firm's clients have been referred in the last 12 months to a particular doctor, you can bet that the insurance company knows it or will find out about it. How credible do you think that doctor's testimony will be when the jury finds out that he treated 127 patients from the same law firm last year?

Frankly, its unethical to do this unless the lawyer also volunteer to you the number of referals he has made to that doctor over the past year. He should also make you aware of any side deals he has with the doctor.

Are there exceptions to this rule? Yes, there are.

You may have a need for a doctor with a special expertise. It is perfectly legitimate for the attorney to make that suggestion/recommendation. If every client, though, is getting referred to the same chiropractor or the same orthopedist, then that is a huge problem. (So beware of the attorney who has a stack of doctor/chiropractor cards in his office. You need to ask the right questions and fully understand the business relationship, if any, between that attorney and the doctor.)

You can order a free sample chapter of our free consumer guide, The Five Deadly Sins That Can Wreck Your Injury Claim, to learn more about personal injury claims.

If you have a question for Ben, you can submit it confidentially online at JustAskBenGlass.com.

Ben Glass
Ben Glass is a nationally recognized Virginia injury, medical malpractice, and long-term disability attorney