Tag Archive for: Kansas legal malpractice defense attorney

The Ethical Dilemma for Plaintiff’s Attorneys in Kansas and Missouri – Paying for Your Client’s Medical Care

Most plaintiff law firms offer services on a contingency fee basis.  Therefore, if a client does not win his or her case, the law firm does not make any money from work performed on that particular case.  Today in the area of mass torts, where law firms acquire thousands of clients for one particular type of cause of action (often in the area of defective drugs or devices), clients are in need of medical care that is costly and not affordable.

Whether you practice law in Kansas or Missouri, you are subject to the same rules regarding payment for medical care your clients may need.  As a general rule of thumb, you cannot use firm funds to pay for a client’s medical care.  An exception arises where a client needs a consult with an expert and this consult is essential to establishing causation in a particular case.  Even then, the lines are blurred as to what is acceptable under the state rules of professional conduct.

A new dilemma is on the horizon where clients involved in mass tort litigation have procedures done that strengthen their causes of action against the manufacturer of particular drugs or devices.  In the case where a particular medication is alleged to cause heart-related injuries, it may be found that clients who must undergo heart surgery that stems from the use of the drug, are more likely to obtain greater compensation than those clients who do not need to undergo surgery.  The situation is the same for clients who may need surgery to address a defective hip or knee implant.

If you are a plaintiff’s attorney practicing law in the area of personal injury, medical malpractice, or mass torts, you know all too well that clients will call asking for assistance in paying for medical care.  You also know that you are not ethically authorized to assist in payment.  But what you may not know is that you could be at risk for discipline if you steer a client in a particular direction for obtaining needed financing to cover the cost of medical care.

There is an abundance of settlement and pre-settlement lending companies out there that are enticing clients to seek help by obtaining a loan.  As this industry expands, question marks will be raised as to whether or not it is ethical for attorneys to refer their clients to particular lending companies.  As of right now, it is unclear whether or not attorneys can direct clients to obtain pre-settlement or settlement loans to cover the cost of medical care that may help the client’s case.  An attorney may genuinely want to help his or her clients receive necessary medical care, however, if the medical care is found to increase the value of the client’s claim, there may be a legitimate argument that attorneys are encouraging their clients to receive medical care only to strengthen their legal claims.

If you are a plaintiff’s attorney and you are concerned about whether or not you may be subject to discipline for referring your clients to pre-settlement and settlement lending companies, you need the advice of a professional license defense attorney who can counsel you on your ethical responsibilities.  Contact the Sanger Law Office for a free consultation by calling (785) 979-4353.  Danielle Sanger will advise you on what conduct may lead you to lose your law license.  Don’t take the risk that you will be free from disciplinary action simply because the rules are unclear.  Contact our office today before you take action that may compromise your career as an attorney.