I could make a lot more money if I had no ethics.  And I’d have a lot more fun.  But instead, I choose to be able to fall asleep at night with a clear conscience.

Every week I get a call or letter from some medical group that says they are looking for a good law firm to help their injured patients with Illinois workers’ compensation cases, but what they really mean is that they want us to send our clients to them.

The worst are the guys that have just graduated from school and have right away started their own practice. There is, of course, no basis for sending anyone to a doctor without any experience. 

But I recently had the pleasure of talking to a slimy manager of a doctor’s practice who talked to me like a used car salesman and didn’t even hide that he had no interest in the health of their patients.  “You and me, we’ll celebrate the first client you send to me by me taking you to a Bulls game.  I’ve got great seats.  How does that sound.” 

How does it sound?  It sounds like you are a slime ball.  I told him the same thing that I tell everyone else that calls me with these offers.  I’ll never require my clients or anyone that comes to us for a referral to see a specific doctor.  It’s your body and while I know a bit about medicine and would certainly tell you if I thought the physician you were seeing wasn’t a great choice, I’d never tell you that you have to treat with the guy that sends me clients or gives me Bulls tix.  I don’t accept any of those offers, ever, because I never want to feel obligated to anyone. 

Beyond that, your doctor is the one that should direct your medical care.  Not all physicians are honest, so if we know that your doc has a reputation for butchering surgeries, we’ll tell you.  But I’m not going to say that you have to go to one reputable group over another.  It’s your life, your health and your body.  These are not decisions I should make.

Of course there are plenty of firms that gladly get involved in these arrangements and let the extra caseload serve as the justification for their lack of morals.  But no matter how you spin it, if there is a tit for tat involved, it’s not a good thing for the client.  That doesn’t mean that we can’t recommend a physician for you if you ask our opinion, but it does mean that we shouldn’t bring it up in the first place.

I heard a rumor that one attorney in Chicago told his client that he had to see a certain doctor that was a buddy of his, but forgot to make sure that there weren’t previous doctors involved in the case.  Illinois limits your choice of doctors so supposedly the client got stuck with all of the medical bills even though the case wasn’t otherwise disputed.  I’ve heard other stories of clients having to drive an hour to see a certain doctor because he “is the best” when of course it’s just the buddy of the lawyer.  How disgusting can you be?

There are literally thousands of doctors in the Chicago area and plenty of great choices downstate too.  Don’t feel like you have to treat with any doctor that you don’t want to be with.  And if your lawyer is really pushing someone on you, grill them as to why.