If you’ve had your TV on during the daytime lately, you’ve probably seen an advertisement for Sokolove Law. There you are, watching your Judge Judy, when on comes a commercial telling you that you may be entitled to a share of billions of dollars to compensate you for an injury you didn’t know you had. The “paid non-attorney spokesperson” implores you to call Sokolove Law if you or a loved one has been injured. So who is Sokolove Law? More importantly, should I call them?
The ads are focused at particular groups of personal injury plaintiffs. The adds target a variety of topics, including the following:
- cerebral palsy and brachial plexus palsy (which can be caused by trauma during labor and delivery)
- mesothelioma (which can be asbestos related)
- the popular birth-control pills Yasmin and Yaz (which have been alleged to cause strokes, heart attacks, and other serious injuries)
- transvaginal mesh (used to treat incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, but potentially causing a variety of gynecological problems)
- nursing home abuse
In many cases, the ads give the impression that recovery is a near certainty if you have one of these conditions. The theme to these ads is “me get money, me give you money.” They imply that, if your child has cerebral palsy, for example, you are entitled to money. I object to these ads to the extent they play on people’s emotions, and often get people’s hopes up unjustifiably. The ads do serve to educate people about the potential for a claim and their right to contact an attorney, which are laudable goals. But they do so in some potentially misleading ways.
For example, if you took Yaz and then suffered a thromboembolism (a dangerous blood clot, also known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT), you might be tempted by the commercials to believe that you are entitled to money. But there are some big obstacles to such a lawsuit. For example, can you find a doctor who will give the opinion that the blood clot was caused by the Yaz? Although Yaz can increase your risk of DVT, so can smoking, recent pregnancy, obesity, cancer, and recent surgeries. So was the Yaz to blame? Maybe. Even if the Yaz was clearly to blame, you have another problem – the Yaz label clearly warns of the increased risk of DVT. So the company will argue that you knew of the risk but you chose to took the drug anyway. Your chances of recovery are dwindling.
But I thought that Sokolove Law said I was going to get some big bucks. Who are those guys, anyway?
Sokolove Law was founded by James Sokolove, an attorney in Boston. The company is consistently the largest legal advertiser in the United States, which explains why you can hardly turn your TV on without seeing one of their ads. The company is headquartered in Wellesley, Massachusetts. According to their website, their mission is to “reinvent how people obtain legal services. . . .” In other words, they are a legal marketing company, not a law firm. In fact, Sokolove Law doesn’t actually work as your lawyer if you call them — they do NOT litigate cases.
So what do they do? And what happens if I call them? Sokolove Law acts as a referral provider for the attorneys in its network. Let’s say you call them after you suffered that DVT, to get “your money.” You will speak to one of their intake workers, who will conduct a preliminary interview to discover whether you might have a valid claim. They will likely inquire about your medical history, your experience taking Yaz, and the circumstances of your blood clot. They will likely want access to your medical records, and will undertake an evaluation of your case. They won’t charge you for this work, either — at least not up front. Sounds like a good deal – you get an evaluation of your case for free.
But here’s the catch: if they determine you have a good claim, they will not handle that claim for you. Instead, they will refer your case to an affiliate law firm in your state — someone who actually knows how to prosecute a lawsuit in your state. At that point, you won’t work with Sokolove Law anymore — you’ll work with your local attorney. And in the event you are successful with your case, the local law firm and Sokolove law will each take a portion of your recovery as compensation for their efforts.
So should I call them? It’s difficult for me to articulate any real pros for you to call Sokolove Law. The biggest cons with calling them seem to be that you don’t have control over choosing the actual attorney that will handle your case, and it might increase the overall costs to you depending on the agreement you reach with that local attorney. In my opinion, you are much better off talking to your friends and family to find a referral to a competent, trustworthy local attorney than you are calling a national referral company like Sokolove Law. A good attorney will give you an evaluation of your case taking advantage of his or her knowledge of Idaho law, and will help you make a rational decision about your chances of success and whether you should actually go forward with your case.