Recently, one of our partners was meeting with a client about an accident case when the client received a phone call. The unsolicited call was from a call center called “The Accident Resource Center” that was allegedly offering to help the client find medical care and legal representation. The client said it was the third call he had received that day with similar offers.
Such callers are known as case runners. They contact people who might be entitled to pursue personal injury claims with promises of quick cash settlements of their cases. This is an unethical and unlawful practice known by lawyers as “direct solicitation of legal service”, or by the rest of us as “ambulance chasing”. The quick payments, if they materialize, are generally far less than what could be recovered through a legitimate attorney.
On further investigation the partner determined that the call center was not even sending the accident victims to a lawyer who was licensed in North Carolina, so it was obvious that the lawyer would pressure the accident victim to accept unreasonably low offers to settle with the insurance company.
The accident and injury attorneys of Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., made a complaint to the North Carolina State Bar against the ambulance chasers who contacted our client. The North Carolina State Bar regulates the practice of law in North Carolina. We urge anyone who has been in an accident and is considering an injury claim to work with an established and reputable North Carolina law firm.
What Does Ambulance Chasing Mean?
Rule 7.3 of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct forbids live in person or telephone contact by lawyers, or anyone working for the lawyer or in the lawyer’s behalf, to a potential client who has not invited the contact. If you tried to call the lawyer and the lawyer is just returning your call, that is not unethical. If the lawyer sends you a letter, text or email offering his/her services, that is not unethical. It is unethical and unlawful for the lawyer, or his/her “runner” to visit you in person, call you by telephone or attempt to Facetime with you without you or a family member having contacted him/her first.
Once they target an accident victim, a case runner will hound the injured person with phone calls, email, texts, or in-person visits and make offers of cash and services.
After the runner gets the accident victim to engage their lawyer, the victim may then be pressured to go to a doctor who also works with the runner. Call runners are paid referral fees by the attorney who uses them to generate cases.
These lawyers pressure their clients to accept unreasonably low insurance settlements. It is wrong when the lawyer knows the settlement is far too low for the value of the case. It is wrong when the lawyer is working only to get a quick settlement, take a cut and move on to the next victim.
Ambulance Chasing is Unethical
The American Bar Association’s rules of conduct say a lawyer shall not communicate about the subject of legal representation with a person represented by another lawyer unless the lawyer has the consent of the other lawyer or is authorized to do so by law or court order. The rule applies even if the represented person initiates the communication. A lawyer must immediately terminate communication with a person if, after commencing communication, the lawyer learns communication with them is not permitted by this rule.
How To Choose A Lawyer For Your Case
The North Carolina State Bar does not recommend lawyers, but it provides several resources to help you find a lawyer. It says the best resource is a personal recommendation from a friend or family member that you trust.
The N.C. State Bar also says the lawyer you hire should have:
- An active North Carolina law license
- Experience and knowledge in the practice area
- A good record with the North Carolina State Bar. Check a lawyer’s disciplinary record by searching the Disciplinary Order database or by calling the State Bar at 919-828-4620
- Malpractice Insurance
- A good reputation in the community
- Personality or temperament compatible with yours
- Clear information about how you will be charged for the lawyer’s services, the services of paralegals, and for other case expenses, such as obtaining medical records and filing fees
Contact Our North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers
At Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., our injury attorneys are available to review the details of your accident in the Raleigh area and discuss your legal options. Our legal team provides hands-on care and personal attention to our clients. Our personal injury attorneys handle a variety of claims, including car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle crashes, on-the-job injuries, Social Security disability claims, wrongful death cases, harmful drug injuries, slip-and-fall injuries, and product liability claims.
Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., is a highly respected law firm dedicated to providing outstanding legal help to individuals and families. We have the resources, experience, and knowledge to take on some of the largest corporations in America – and win.
We offer a free, no-obligation initial consultation for personal injury cases and do not charge a legal fee unless we recover compensation for you. We have staff members who are fluent in Spanish. Call us today at 919-661-9000 or reach out online.