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Don’t Trust the “Ambulance Chaser” Who Shows up at Your Car Crash Scene or Hospital Bed

Terminal patient talking with notary

Some people have a negative perception of personal injury lawyers. They look down on “ambulance chasers” who harass accident victims in order to make a quick buck. These perceptions are based in large part on the conduct of a few bad actors. Attorneys are required to adhere to certain codes of professional ethics and conduct. One of those rules forbids lawyers from showing up at accident sites or hospital rooms to solicit business. Unfortunately, not all attorneys abide by that code, and there are unscrupulous folks who try to take advantage of people at their lowest. Oftentimes, those attorneys are not even from the area.

Read on for a discussion of these abhorrent practices and what to watch out for if you are in a car crash. If you have been in an accident, do your research, and reach out to an experienced, professional Southern California traffic accident lawyer who has your best interests at heart.

Bad Lawyers Use “Runners” to Stalk Accident Victims

While the majority of attorneys are doing their best to represent their clients with integrity and zeal, there are a few bad actors out there. There’s a practice that has become, unfortunately, common in Southern California and other places. Unscrupulous attorneys will hire professional ambulance chasers to chase down accident victims in order to drum up business.

These law firms will hire people alternatively referred to as “runners,” “solicitors,” or “cappers” to scan police radio and other sources of accident information. When the runner hears about an accident on the news, on the police scanner, or on an emergency vehicle scanner, they will immediately head to the scene and try to solicit the victim’s business. They’ll tell the accident victim that they know of a lawyer who can help them out, and they may even offer to take the victim to a particular medical office to get checked out.

The runner gets paid a few hundred dollars for every “client” that they refer to the law firm. They may use one of many schemes to convince the victim to retain the law firm, for example:

  • Claiming to be a “witness” to the accident and acting as if they just happen to know of a good lawyer, offering legal advice;
  • Promising the victim a hefty financial recovery if they should hire this law firm for their personal injury case in order to coerce the victim into signing an agreement or retainer without consideration;
  • Calling a tow truck or otherwise pretending to help in order to ingratiate themselves with the victim;
  • Sending a number of junk mail letters to accident victims to solicit their business.

These same law firms and their runners might also get referrals from “insiders.” They may pay police officers, first responders, tow truck drivers, or hospital staff to tip-off their runners about accident victims. The runner then heads to the scene of the accident, to the victim’s hospital room, or to the victim’s home to solicit business. Even if they only go so far as to collect the victim’s address to send them junk mail solicitations, it’s still an unethical act.
Any law firm that sends runners to an accident scene or hospital room to harass an accident victim and solicit their business should be inherently suspect. They are already flagrantly violating ethics rules and California law by sending a runner, which demonstrates their lack of commitment to professional integrity. They do not have their clients’ best interests at heart, focused instead on snaring the victim into representation when they are at their most vulnerable.
If you are solicited by a runner, do not take the bait. You might even consider reporting the attorney for an ethical violation. Instead of signing up with someone soliciting your business improperly, do your own research, talk to your friends, family, and professional connections, and find an injury lawyer you can trust.
If you or someone you care about has been injured or killed in a car accident in Southern California, talk to a professional and compassionate Palmdale traffic accident attorney about pursuing a claim for damages. Call the Kistler Law Firm at 661-206-6990.


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