DEFINING AMBULANCE CHASER
You should avoid at all costs becoming the victim of ambulance chasing. Ambulance chasing is illegal in the United States and most of the World. In England is also called “barratry,” an offense committed by people who are “overly officious in instigating or encouraging prosecution of groundless litigation” or who bring “repeated or persistent acts of litigation” for the purposes of profit or harassment. It’s well known as an insult to personal injury attorneys, implying that they “chase ambulances” to the emergency room to find clients. An astute client can tell the difference between a reputable personal injury attorney and an “ambulance chaser.”
HOW CAN YOU SPOT THEM?
So how can you tell if your attorney is an ambulance chaser? Ambulance chasers use illicit means to solicit clients that have had an accident. For example, if you are treated in an emergency room, an ambulance chaser may get this data and begin calling you to ask if you would like to sue for your injuries. You might get 10, 20 or 30 calls like this. The attorneys that engage is this harassing and illegal activity hope to convince you to trust them with your case, but why should you trust an attorney that is unethical?
Ambulance chasers also employ what’s known as “runners.” These employees of unethical attorneys use radio scanners to intercept police calls to the scene of an accident. They show up with the attorney’s cards, trying to solicit business from injured victims who are presently concerned about their health and well being. They sometimes even bring forms to sign to retain the attorneys they work for. After an accident, people are often in a state of shock, both glad to be alive and concerned about their injuries and the damage to their vehicles. To solicit clients at this time is reprehensible.
Another tactic is to use “runners” from medical offices that lure clients into treating for their injuries “for free,” with the no-fault insurance from the accident. The no-fault insurance would cover their treatment at any provider that accepts this insurance, and they are numerous, but the false impression is given that they are getting something “for free.” The patient is given a stack of forms to fill out, and sometimes those forms include a retainer for a law firm! I have had clients come to my office that did not even know that they had already retained any attorney. Aside from being illegal and unethical, ambulance chasers often run “mills” with thousands of cases that all get little or no attention. I have heard horror stories from clients that have worked with this type of firm – calls not returned, filing deadlines missed, and settlements proposed without breakdowns explaining how much money the client will receive.
YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR ATTORNEY AT ANY TIME DURING YOUR CASE
What can you do if you made the mistake of retaining an ambulance chaser? It’s easy to fix! Clients have a right to change attorneys at any time during their case. The reputable attorney can have you sign a “Consent to Change Attorney” form that will end your relationship with the ambulance chaser and retain the legitimate attorney. There are very good reasons why you should end such a relationship, including the fact that the District Attorney’s Office is constantly investigating these illicit operations and you could get swept up in the fraud prosecutions and come under scrutiny yourself.
CHOOSE A REPUTABLE FIRM
At Wittenstein & Wittenstein, clients seek out our services through referrals and searches that lead to our transparent and informational website. Our goal is to provide excellent service to clients needing representation for injuries sustained through the fault of others. There is no shame in seeking compensation for your pain and suffering when somebody has done you wrong, and this can best be accomplished with the assistance of a reputable personal injury firm. The reputation of the law firm that represents you is known by the insurance companies and defense law firms. The largest settlements are made to firms that they take seriously. If your attorney is an ambulance chaser, your claim will not strong. If you don’t have faith in your lawyer, you should consider changing attorneys.