Lawyers can be known for many things, and many times these things aren’t always good. There are the attorneys that have a know-it-all, arrogant vibe. Or the attorneys that come off as unethical, money hungry sharks. Others just seem to slimy or dishonest.
For Personal Injury Lawyers, the worst kind of a reputation to have is that of an ambulance chaser. These types of lawyers are mostly known for their unethical practices in obtaining clients. Okay, so maybe they don’t chase down your ambulance and show up in your hospital room, as the name implies, but if they make an unsolicited call to you or a family member offering legal counsel: that’s illegal.
Ambulance chasing is considered to be one of the oldest and most unethical practices and some attorneys still engage in it. Sure, lawyers need to stay competitive to get good cases, but preying upon victims of accidents is unlawful and makes honest lawyers look bad.
Undoubtedly, ambulance chasing still occurs. Every week calls come in from confused clients telling me they were in a car accident. Whether it was a big or small accident, police report was filed or not, or if injuries were sustained or not, victims find themselves receiving numerous calls, texts, emails and visits by lawyers and their investigators offering their services.
The Illinois Supreme Court forbids soliciting in this way, and that includes using a third party. These third-party investigators, or “case runners”, often will pay off cops, paramedics, hospital staff, nurses and others to provide contact information from the injury victim. Sometimes, these case runners will make the initial contact with the victims, confusing the situation even more.
Countless firms are still engaging in this illegal practice, knowing that they can be disbarred for it. So why do they do it? It doesn’t make much sense, but it seems most prevalent in two types of law firms.
First, you have the young, aggressive, go-getter law firms who seem to lack any moral foundation and are just after the quick buck. Their motivation is strictly the dollar sign. Pushing clients into unnecessary claims or settling when there is a serious case needing honest representation.
Secondly, is quite the opposite: It’s the older attorneys, in their 60’s and 70’s, engaging in ambulance chasing. Surely, they know better, but their way of marketing has long gone with the Yellow Pages as everyone relies on the internet. Their unwillingness or inability to adapt and learn with internet marketing has ambulance chasing the only way they feel comfortable obtaining clients. Ethically speaking, if they were to be caught and lose their license to practice, no harm since they were likely going to retire soon anyways.
The ARDC is in place to promote and protect the integrity of the legal profession as well as investigating and prosecuting unlawful practices. Overall, they do a great job, but ambulance chasing is still a problem and will continue to be unless action is taken.
Ambulance chasing is a disservice to the public and honest lawyers. Ask yourself, if your lawyer would break the law just to represent you, what other illegal activities would s/he do with your case and settlement?