Legal Question in Personal Injury in California

Friend was taken by ambulance by ambulance following a car accident. After figuring out her injuries and diagnosis she was given pain meds. After which time the doctor came back in after she had been at the hospital for a bit, continuing pain meds at which time he introduced her to an attorney. He told her this was an attorney he called in on her behalf. The attorney pulled out a contract to have her sign him on as her attorney so she could continue with treatment, severly broken ankle. She has since had the opportunity to speak with this attorney and she doesn't feel he is looking out for her best interest. What are her legal options?

Asked on 1/18/10, 9:57 pm

5 Answers from Attorneys

Michael Stone Law Offices of Michael B. Stone Toll Free 1-855-USE-MIKE

Attorneys who pull out contracts and foist them on injured persons in emergency rooms are known as "ambulance chasers." It's also highly possible that the attorney could have paid an illegal referral fee or kickback to the doctor.

Your Friend should fire the attorney, demand the return of her file from her former attorney, and retain a new attorney in whom she has confidence. She could also report both the physician and the attorney to their respective licensing agencies (the Medical Board and the State Bar, respectively).

The hospital could also be violating a law or regulation, if its management condones or permits this actiivity. The hospital benefits financially from the deal because the document you signed allows them to collect their bill from any money you might recovery in your legal case. The hospital had a legal obligation under the EMTALA law to treat your ankle whether or not you signed documents for this attorney

Good luck finding an attorney in your locality, and watch out for legal time limits.

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Answered on 1/23/10, 10:33 pm
Robert F. Cohen Law Office of Robert F. Cohen

To elaborate on what Mr. Stone suggests, your friend has two years to file a lawsuit against the other driver and the car's owner for her personal injuries, and three years to claim damages to her vehicle. However, it's best she receives medical care now. Whomever she chooses as an attorney could recommend follow-up medical care which probably could be paid once the case is settled or she receives an award after trial.

Often, an attorney will negotiate down the bill for medical providers. In the circumstances you mentioned, it's possible the hospital won't negotiate with the attorney it suggests and get full value, which is not in your best interest. Good luck to your friend.

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Answered on 1/23/10, 10:39 pm
Barry Simon Law Office of Barry J. Simon

Besides what is stated above, does the other driver have insurance or your friend uninsured motorist coverage? Which hospital was your friend taken to and in what city? If you need to discuss further, my email is: [email protected]

Barry J. Simon, ESQ.

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Answered on 1/23/10, 11:50 pm
Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq. The Law Offices of Norman Gregory Fernandez & Associates

This sounds like a big scam to me. If the attorney paid the doctor for the referral it is illegal. The circumstances on how your friend signed up with this attorney in an ER does not pass my smell test.

My firm is an ethical PI firm that does not ambulance chase.

Your friend should immediately call my office for a free consultation at 800-816-1529 x. 1. My firm handles car accident cases all over the State of California. You can also check out our website at .

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Answered on 1/24/10, 11:21 am

You are not under any obligation to keep an attorney that you have lost your trust and confidence. Feel free to call us at 213.388.7070 for a free consultation.

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Answered on 1/26/10, 1:08 pm

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