Personal injury attorneys hate hearing phrases like “Ambulance Chasers” and don’t like being called sharks. Sadly however, there are unethical attorneys out there and they give us all a bad name. For instance, a New Jersey attorney and paralegal are in hot water for assisting a pair of chiropractors in the operation of a personal injury mill. The chiropractors, who were brothers, paid “runners” $1000 to obtain accident reports, find accident victims, then bring them in for treatment. The attorney and paralegal involved paid the practicing brothers to meet with their patients and accept insurance settlements on their behalf. You can read more about this story here.
This type of solicitation is completely unethical per rules set by the American Bar Association.
Be wary if you are contacted by a personal injury attorney by the following methods:
- In person, live telephone or real time electronic contact, unless the attorney is a family member, close friend, or you’ve had a prior professional relationship with the attorney.
- The attorney tries to solicit a professional relationship in person, writing, or by recorded or electronic communication if you have already stated that you are not interested in their services.
- By coercion, duress, or harassment.
Any unsolicited written, recorded or electronic communication from an attorney requesting to provide you with legal services must include “Advertising Material” on the outside of the envelope, and at the beginning and end of any recorded or electronic communication, unless, once again you are a family member, friend, or have a prior professional relationship.
Exceptions to this would be:
- If the attorney is offering their services Pro Bono, or, free.
- If you subscribe to a prepaid or group legal service plan, such as LegalShield, you’ve requested assistance on a legal matter, and the attorney is a participating attorney under your plan.
The best ways to find an attorney are through:
- Personal referrals
- Business referrals
- Attorney referrals
- Online services such as:
If you’re approached by an attorney and their tactics seem questionable, they probably are. Attorneys who will disregard ethics to gain clients are only looking out for one person’s interests – their own.