What Is an Ambulance Chaser?
“Ambulance chaser” is a slang term that refers to a lawyer or, more likely, a runner hired by a lawyer, who performs illegal solicitation for certain unscrupulous personal injury lawyers.
Reputable personal injury lawyers do not hire runners. In case you suffer an injury accident, it makes sense to learn to recognize the activities of runners so that you can avoid them.
What Runners Do
Runners engage in the following activities, among others:
- Literally chasing ambulances so they can speak with injured parties before anyone else does;
- Attending funerals for strangers seeking clients for whom to file wrongful death lawsuits;
- Offering to take injured people to “medical clinics” associated with their employer;
- Visiting injured patients without permission and soliciting the services of their employer while they are still woozy from medication;
- Misrepresenting the law to lure injured victims into hiring the lawyer that the runner works for;
- Visiting injured people at home to pressure them into hiring a lawyer; and
- Obtaining a victim’s address through various deceitful means and then sending you letters soliciting your business.
Runners perform many other aggressive and manipulative tactics.
Common Tricks Runners Use
Runners have a thousand tricks up their sleeves. The following are some of the most common:
- Pretending to be a witness so that they can obtain your contact details and then mention that they know a personal injury lawyer.
- Calling a tow truck for you, then engaging you in conversation while you wait. They might also pay the tow truck driver to provide information about you, like your home address.
- Promising you a large amount of compensation to seduce you into signing a contract to hire the lawyer they work for. Remember, no reputable lawyer will guarantee you victory or a certain amount of compensation.
- Bribing doctors, hospital staff, tow truck drivers, and police officers for information about injured people so that they can contact them later. Bribing police officers also makes it less likely they will be arrested for their behavior.
If a runner tries to use any of these tactics on you, or if they use them on someone else and you find out about it, report them to the Florida State Bar Association.
Florida Prohibitions on Illegal Attorney Solicitation
Florida law strictly and broadly restricts lawyer solicitation as follows:
- A lawyer cannot actively solicit clients, either through their own efforts or through the efforts of an agent such as a runner. Passive promotional activity, such as a website, is permitted, as is the activity of lawyer referral services.
- An agent for a hospital, sanitarium, police department, wrecker service, prison, court, bail bond service, private investigation service, photography service, insurance company, or construction contractor may not communicate with a lawyer to provide solicitation services for the lawyer.
Violation of the foregoing is a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a fine of $1,000. Florida has enacted other solicitation laws that carry felony penalties.
Florida State Bar Ethical Rules
The Florida Bar has enacted many ethical rules that govern attorney conduct. Violation of these rules can result in serious penalties, up to and including permanent disbarment of a lawyer who violates its standards. These rules prohibit active solicitation either directly or through runners. They also place extensive restrictions on the content of attorney advertising, including passive advertising.
Just Because Unscrupulous Lawyers Hire Ambulance Chasers Doesn’t Mean You Shouldn’t Hire a Reputable Personal Injury Lawyer
Skilled lawyers don’t need to hire ambulance chasers. Once you weed out the disreputable personal injury lawyers, it will be your job to choose among those who remain. The right choice will probably result in far more compensation than you would receive if you represented yourself.
A reputable personal injury lawyer should offer you a free initial consultation. They should also offer a contingency fee arrangement under which you pay no legal fees unless your lawyer wins your claim.
Contact the Jacksonville Personal Injury Law Firm of Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers Today For Help
For more information, please contact the Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra personal injury law firm of Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
We serve Duval County, St. Johns County, and its surrounding areas:
Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers – Jacksonville
9471 Baymeadows Rd #105,
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers – Ponte Vedra
480 Town Plaza Ave #130,
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32081