What are Ambulance Chasers? What You Need to Know
You may have heard the term “ambulance chaser” related to personal injury accident victims. Ambulance chasers are lawyers who try to solicit clients at a disaster chase. The phrase comes from a stereotype of attorneys who show up at the scene of accidents or follow injured people in an ambulance to try to make them clients. Ambulance chasers are seen as unethical attorneys who will try to hound victims of personal injury accidents immediately after their injury and for their own benefit.
Ambulance Chasing is Often Conducted by “Runners”
People may be surprised to learn that a large amount of ambulance chasing is not conducted by attorneys themselves. Instead, it is conducted by people called case runners who are not licensed to practice law. Attorneys sometimes hire case runners to do whatever is necessary to try to get victims to hire them as their personal injury lawyers. After the runner finds injured people and convinces them to hire an attorney, the victim may be coerced to go to a doctor associated with the runner.
How Do Ambulance Chasers Find Victims?
Ambulance chasers often resort to unethical means to try to find injured people. In order for predatory runners to find their victims, they listen to police scanners for any accidents that have occurred. They may even show up at the accident scene and offer victims cash. Many times they will try to confuse the victims by giving them false information, so they are scared and willing to work with the runner. They may offer the victim a ride from the accident scene to a medical office. Runners are incentivized by being paid a referral fee by doctors that they work with. Sometimes runners will make thousands of dollars for referring a victim of a catastrophic injury.
When runners do not arrive at the scene of the accident in time to lure the victims away from their preferred medical doctors, they may continue to harass victims or bribe officials. Runners may try to pay cash under the table to ambulance drivers, hospital staff, or police officers who will sell their information to the runner for a fee.
Once the runners get this information, they will visit the injured person’s house, call them, text them, or write them letters trying to wear them down. This type of behavior is illegal in New York. Unfortunately, since more money is to be made selling accident victims and their private information to the highest bidder than some types of drugs on the street, runners continue to engage in this behavior and risk facing criminal penalties.
How to Avoid Case Runners and Ambulance Chasers
One of the most disturbing aspects of ambulance chasers involves them preying on victims who have been seriously injured. Victims of car accidents and other personal injury accidents are often in significant pain. It is difficult for them to know if they are being preyed upon while they are in a confusing and painful time of their lives. However, if you know what to look for, you can identify a runner and avoid them at all costs. Here are a few of the signs that someone who has approached you is a runner for an ambulance chaser:
- You do not know them, and they are a stranger
- They visit your hospital room without your permission
- They began calling or texting you soon after the personal injury accident
- They are asking about your injuries even though they do not work for the hospital, and they are not your doctor
- They offer you a free ride to the medical clinic or try to refer you to their medical clinic
- They refer you to a particular personal injury attorney
- They offer you money to go to their medical clinic or visit their attorney
Why You Should Avoid Ambulance Chasers
If you have seen any of these warning signs, or if you have a gut feeling that the person you are speaking to is an ambulance chaser or works for one, tell them to leave. If you were in the hospital, you can call your nurse and ask them to escort the person out of your room. If you are capable of doing so, you may want to spend some time researching on your iPhone so you can find yourself a legitimate and ethical personal injury attorney. Ethical personal injury attorneys have a desire to help their clients, not prey on them or abuse them in their hour of need.
Ambulance Chasing is Illegal in New York
As in every other state, New York prohibits ambulance chasing. Specifically, attorneys in their agents cannot make unsolicited communication with someone who has been injured in the accident. They cannot make unsolicited communication with the injured person, legal representative, or family member. Attorneys in their agents cannot solicit people in person, by telephone, by text message email or any other form of communication.
If you have been approached by an investigator or anyone else claiming to be working with an attorney within 30 days of your accident, you should avoid working with them. They are violating New York law and engaging in unscrupulous behavior. These actions are a sign that you will not trust them to be ethical and competent while handling your case. The best way to find a personal injury lawyer is to go online, read about their accomplishments, ask friends and family for referrals, and see if they have any complaints or suspensions with their bar association.
About Harrison Law Group, P.C.
The Harrison Law Group, P.C. is a well-known, and respected personal injury law firm who is exclusively dedicated to handing a wide range of personal injury cases which include but are not limited to motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents, dog bites, traumatic brain injuries, serious and catastrophic injuries, soft tissue injuries, construction accidents, and many other injury cases.