It’s a sad truth that there are unethical businessmen and women everywhere. But it is especially disturbing when predatory methods are practiced in a field like law which is dedicated to promoting justice and helping people. Even more reprehensible is unethical behavior that takes advantage of people who have been injured.
In today’s post we are going to look at ambulance chasing and personal injury actions.
So let’s get started.
What is Ambulance Chasing?
A derivative of “barratry,” the derogatory term, “ ambulance chasing “ generally refers to the unethical practice of a personal injury attorney (either directly or through the use of agents called “cappers, “runners,” or even “investigators”) soliciting clients who have been injured in a car accident or whose loved one has just died because of someone else’s negligence.
Ambulance chasing is when someone tries to talk an accident victim into hiring a lawyer. These solicitations for business frequently occur either at the scene of the accident (as when a “runner” pretends to be a witness), in the hospital, or by phone shortly after the victim has gotten out of the hospital.
What’s wrong with ambulance chasing?
Well, first of all it is illegal in many states, including Georgia.
Second, it’s unethical.
Unlike many professions, lawyers have ethical rules and codes they must follow. Ambulance chasing, under the Code of Professional Ethics provided by the American Bar Association, is unethical.
Runners, cappers, or “investigators” are non-attorneys who are paid by (unethical) personal injury attorneys to get them clients. Unfortunately, many of the people that these unethical attorneys hire are first responders — people in the police force, hospital workers, insurance employees, or even tow truck drivers. People in these professions are first on the scene of an accident and they have access to a victim’s information. So, unethical attorneys who engage in ambulance chasing pay these people to either solicit business for the attorney (i.e., talk the victim into hiring the attorney) or to give them the victim’s contact information.
This creates a situation where vulnerable accident victims can end up being harassed, frightened, or coerced into hiring an attorney who is just about as good as his (nonexistent) ethics.
In other words, they end up hiring someone who is not trustworthy, not honest, not professional, and not a good attorney.
And where does that lead?
To more damage for the victim. This time in the form of inadequate or incompetent representation.
So, What Can You Do About It?
First, it is important to know what ambulance chasing is. But it is equally important to understand what it is not.
Not every person who may recommend an attorney to you is a “runner” for some unethical attorney, and you should absolutely seek the advice and assistance of an attorney of your choice if you are involved in a serious accident.
The point to keep in mind is that you should be the one choosing to hire the attorney and choosing the attorney you want to hire —you should not feel pressured into hiring someone.
Also, as long as the person recommending an attorney to you is not getting paid for his or her recommendation, there is nothing wrong with someone referring you to a good personal injury attorney.
However, if you believe you have been the victim of ambulance chasing, you can do something about it. If you live in the State of Georgia and are receiving unsolicited visits in the hospital or phone calls shortly after your accident from an attorney or someone trying to convince you to hire an attorney, you can:
- Contact the State Bar of Georgia and file a complaint.
- Contact the District Attorney’s Office in your county and report the situation.
In the meantime, it may be helpful simply to be aware of the situation. Rest assured that there are far more ethical, honest, and highly experienced personal injury attorneys available to assist you than there are unethical ones.
Personal Injury Attorneys in Cumming, Georgia.
The personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C., are here to help you. We serve clients in Atlanta, and in a number of counties throughout Georgia, including: Clayton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Douglas County, Fulton County, and Paulding County, among others. To find out how we can help you, call us at: 770-888-7707. Or contact us here.