Many of us have heard the term “ambulance chaser” before to describe a personal injury lawyer. However, the image of a sleazy lawyer pressuring a vulnerable accident victim into a lawsuit is an unfair stereotype of the profession.
In fact, “ambulance chasing” violates any state bar’s ethical standards, not to mention it violates the law.
Unfortunately, it’s a problem that occurs with alarming frequency in hospitals. In this article we’ll describe what “ambulance chasing” looks like today as well as why you should avoid these attorneys.
Ambulance Chasers Today: The Hospital Runner
While we’ve all probably had the image of a sleazy attorney following an ambulance to the hospital in hot pursuit at some point, the truth is that ambulance chasing occurs much more discreetly. Instead, these disreputable attorneys will hire “hospital runners” to enter hospital rooms and pressure accident victims into hiring their firm. A “runner” is any non-lawyer personnel hired for the express purpose of directly soliciting injury victims in hospitals.
Often, the runners go by the title “investigator,” when in reality they are there to provide illegal and unethical legal solicitation.
The seriously injured are targeted as “sitting ducks” since they are immobilized and often sedated by medication in a hospital room. The “runner” invades the hospital room and tries to obtain a signature to hire the lawyer. The fees and expenses to hire these attorneys and firms are typically outrageous and come with ridiculous promises that are never kept.
At Buttafuoco & Associates, we often see accident victims becoming targets of fraud and poor legal advice, and this is no exception. Avoid “ambulance chasers” and their “hospital runners” because they’re only concerned with their own financial gain, not with the well-being of their clients.
Never Hire an Ambulance Chaser
As I mentioned above, the practice of ambulance chasing or sending “hospital runners” to collect clients is unethical and illegal. At the very least, it can result in immediate disbarment, prohibiting the attorney from practicing law.
According to “Rule 7.3 The Solicitation of Clients” of the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct, the practice of ambulance chasing is forbidden. The rule states that “solicit[ing] professional employment by live person-to-person contact” is forbidden if it’s in the financial interest of the attorney. There are some exceptions, such as if you have a personal relationship with the attorney or routinely use these kinds of legal services.
If you’re approached by an attorney or a “runner” you don’t know when you’re recovering in a hospital, this is an obvious violation.
Furthermore, the rule states that any solicitation for services cannot engage in “coercion, duress or harassment.” Many “runners” will engage in these aggressive tactics. These runners, of course, are soliciting people at their lowest moment when they are in their hospital beds, often under heavy medication, unable to think clearly or clouded by distress and grief. This is a high-pressure tactic utilized to attract vulnerable accident victims as clients.
If you are injured in the hospital and think you need legal representation, reach out yourself to a reputable firm and invite them for a consultation. You can also ask a trusted friend or family member to recommend a personal injury lawyer serving Northern New Jersey, and make sure they’re the right attorney for you.
What if I Hired an Ambulance Chaser?
“Ambulance chasing” and “hospital running” are prohibited because they’re damaging to clients’ rights and clients rarely get decent representation this way, losing out on necessary compensation to get their lives back on track.
Our Northern New Jersey personal injury lawyers have seen many horror stories of cases ruined and valuable rights lost. Countless victims have settled for a fraction of the compensation they deserved; I personally was involved in a case where the client’s prior lawyer demanded he settle for $600,000 “or else.” Thankfully they did not take the settlement and they changed lawyers to our firm. They came to Buttafuoco & Associates, and our experienced legal team handled their case. They received $4.6 million dollars for the same case. This is all too common.
That said, if you’ve been pressured by a “hospital runner” into hiring one of these dodgy lawyers, you still have options. Get in touch with a reputable law firm to handle your case.
Call 1-800-NOW-HURT for a free consultation to see what Buttafuoco & Associates can do for your case.