WATCH OUT FOR AMBULANCE CHASERS

01 May 2024
Richard Bush
WATCH OUT FOR AMBULANCE CHASERS

I recently had an experience much like what many of my clients have had after I was t-boned while driving by a vehicle that ran a stop sign. I spent most of the night in a recliner with a heating pad and ice packs and did not plan to work the following morning.

The next day, at 7:47 a.m., I was awakened by a call on my cell phone asking how I was and offering to get me in for an appointment. Groggy and confused, I asked who the caller was and got only a first name. When I asked who he was calling on behalf of he said the name of some injury advocacy group and offered to make a medical appointment for me “just around the corner” from my home. Once I got my wits about me, I told the caller I was not interested and hung up. But the ambulance chasing had begun!

Over the course of the next several days, I was targeted by continuous solicitations. The ambulance chasers called my cell phone, my home phone, and my wife’s cell phone. They sent texts, emails, and letters. They even dropped off solicitation packets at my home.

Notably, while I live and work in the Youngstown area, I was being solicited by law firms as far away as Columbus and Toledo. None of the lawyers knew me or whether I was injured. None had any concern about hounding me during a difficult time.

Still, they sent me fancy packages with gold stars and other graphics. One Columbus firm had a big seal advertising the availability of a “CASH ADVANCE” upon third-party approval. Being familiar with companies that lend based upon a lien on a personal injury claim, I knew what horrible deals such cash advances typically turn out to be. Yet here was a firm trying to lure clients in with the prospect of a cash advance.

So, what is an “ambulance chaser?” Some use the term to refer to any personal injury lawyer, which is inaccurate and unfair. Others use the term more properly to refer to lawyers who seek work by directly soliciting accident victims to make claims, even with no prior knowledge of the victim or the existence or nature of any injury.

The Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct place limits upon direct solicitation of accident victims. One such limitation is that lawyers with no prior relationship with a potential client shall not solicit employment by in-person, live telephone, or real-time electronic contact. But that restriction does not apply to “injury advocacy” groups or medical providers, some which actively solicit cases and then refer them to particular attorneys.

The Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct permit general advertisements to the public and such advertisements are now an acceptable reality of the legal profession. The public should be aware of the availability of legal representation. Direct solicitation of particular accident victims is a whole different beast. Even when it is done in a manner that is not prohibited by law, it is still fair to call such direct solicitation ambulance chasing.

At Green Haines Sgambati Co., LPA we want you to be aware of your rights and to be aware that we are here to help you if you are injured in an accident. But we will never hound you with direct solicitation.

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