What are Ambulance Chasers?
An “ambulance chaser” is a term that refers to an attorney who goes to the scene of an accident and solicits clients. This practice is unethical. If you have been in an accident it is important for you to recognize this practice so that you do not get mixed up with an unethical attorney.
It is also important to note that lawyers are prohibited from hiring non-lawyers to seek out clients using the ambulance-chasing method. Lawyers sometimes attempt to hire paramedics, police officers, nurses, or so called “runners” to pass out business cards to people who have recently been in an auto accident. This practice often occurs in the lobby of hospitals or at doctors’ appointments.
Where does the Term get its Name from?
The term ambulance chaser comes from an old story of an attorney running after an ambulance seeking to speak with the injured individual being transported to a hospital. Of course, lawyers do not actually engage in chasing down an ambulance, but many lawyers attempt to solicit clients shortly after they have been injured.
How Do “Ambulance Chasers” get Injured Person’s Information?
A lot of people do not know the open records laws provide individuals access to police records and crash reports. This means that anyone can receive copies of any police report that you or an officer file after you are in a car accident. The report usually has your address and phone number which makes it easy for “chasers” to find you.
The people who call you will attempt to sound like they have your best interest in mind. However, you should know that this is often not the case. The people who have obtained your information in an improper manner want to use your car accident as a way to make money. Often, they do not even care about whether you have actually suffered an injury or about whether you are receiving proper medical attention.
What are the Rules of Professional Conduct?
The rules of professional conduct lay out ethical rules that practicing lawyers must follow. Lawyers must follow very specific rules with regard to solicitation of clients. There is a model code of professional conduct. Some states have adopted these rules, and others have made changes.
If you believe that an attorney has acted unethically you should report the attorney to the state bar. The state bar will investigate your claim and determine whether the attorney should be subject to discipline. Reporting an unethical attorney could save others from a lot of stress in the future.
Why Should I Avoid Ambulance Chasers?
As discussed above, the practice of ambulance chasing is unethical. If an attorney is willing to engage in in this unethical behavior they will likely be willing to engage in other unethical behaviors. It is best for you to avoid this type of attorney all together when you are choosing which attorney to retain.
Unethical attorneys likely do not have your best interest at heart. Before you hire an attorney, do your research. Look for an attorney that has experience in personal injury case with a history of putting their clients’ interests ahead of their own.
How long Should I wait Until I Retain An Attorney?
If you have been in an accident, you should take time to reflect on your situation before you decide whether to hire a lawyer. If you do decide to hire a lawyer, you should hire a lawyer who has the same values as you. It is highly likely that an attorney who is engaging in an unethical practice will not have your best interest at heart.
Wait until you have sought out medical help unless you need help with your medical bills. If that is the case you may need to consult an attorney right away.
Your health should be your number one priority. After that, assess whether you need to sue to seek compensation. If the other driver’s insurance company is not willing to provide you with adequate compensation you may need to retain an attorney.
It is likely that the insurance company will take your claims more seriously if you have retained an attorney. Use your instincts when you are choosing whether to hire an attorney. Do not hire an attorney that you do not feel comfortable with and do not hire an attorney before you feel comfortable with the situation.
What Other Practices Are Unethical?
There are many things that an attorney can do that are unethical. This section of this article is designed to provide you with some examples of unethical conduct. You should be on the lookout of these behaviors. Also, you should know that this list is not exclusive.
First, some lawyers steal from their clients. When lawyers receive funds that belong to their clients, they must keep this money in a separate account. Some lawyers do not follow this rule.
Problems also arise when lawyers do not run a proper conflict of interest check. Lawyers must be loyal to their clients. When the interest of two clients conflict the lawyer cannot be loyal to both clients. This presents an ethical problem. It could even arise when a lawyer represents two people in the same car involved in the same wreck.
Lawyers have an ethical duty to keep clients reasonably informed. When lawyers ignore their clients’ inquiries for information they are acting unethical.
How can Hutchison & Stoy Help Me?
Many people believe that all lawyers engage in unethical behavior. Much like every other profession, most of the lawyers practicing today are very ethical individuals. The unethical minority ruins the reputation of the ethical majority. The key is to find a lawyer that you trust.
The lawyers at Hutchison & Stoy are here to help. We fight for clients to receive adequate compensation for their injuries. We offer free case consolations for individuals who are attempting to determine what their legal rights are.