You’ve heard of personal injury lawyers being called “ambulance chasers.” But can they really engage in this type of behavior?
The Truth About Personal Injury Lawyers & Ambulance Chasing
Have you ever heard someone call a personal injury lawyer an “ambulance chaser?”
We personal injury lawyers don’t take very kindly to this joke!
Kidding… we have a laugh at it too. You can’t take yourself too seriously, you know.
And besides, the way some lawyers work, the crude nickname is earned.
But do some lawyers have a way of doing this? Can they “chase ambulances” and literally hunt their next client down?
Legal Ethics Bar Anything Like Ambulance Chasing from Happening
These rules strictly guide how lawyers can solicit clients. You can read the strict professional language regulating this behavior at the ABA’s website.
And if you want the simple version, we’ll kept it short and sweet for you:
Lawyers can’t use real-time electronic contact, the telephone, or in-person contact to solicit clients when their primary motivation is to make a profit. However, they can make contact for this purpose if:
- The person is a lawyer
- The person is family or has a close personal or professional relationship with the lawyer already
So, for all but the most dishonest lawyers, that puts any “ambulance chasing” to an end. Because if they get caught in such behavior, they risk losing their professional license.
A rare lawyer might willfully disregard this regulation. But most won’t even consider it.
Behaviors Similar to Ambulance Chasing that Still Happen – And How to Protect Yourself
True ambulance chasing rarely happens. But there’s still plenty of less-than-ideal ways that many personal injury lawyers choose to get clients.
For example, what about the lawyer who plants a billboard smack in the middle of a downtown area? Yeah – good strategy, because there will be more traffic accidents there. But, behind the scenes, they may be just trying to get a high volume of cases to maximize their own profit margin, which takes their focus off doing the best for their client.
The same goes for injury law firms that use heavy advertising and high pressure sales tactics. For example, they bombard you with TV and radio ads. When you meet their lawyer, they talk as fast as possible and pressure you to use their services now.
Like the previous lawyer – where does their focus lie? Is it on their own profit margins, or the client’s best interest?
Though these practices are common, they’re not necessarily unethical – even though you don’t get the best service.
The Best Personal Injury Lawyers Don’t Harass You Into Becoming a Client
Know how you just can’t stand being sold to when you browse in the store? Usually you distrust someone trying to sell to you right away.
You should carry the same attitude with lawyers. If they pressure you in any way to be their client, don’t do it.
And if you experience or observe unethical behavior in a lawyer, follow this guide for reporting it.
Work with the lawyers who give you all the facts, tell you what they can and can’t do for you, and let you make up your own mind. They’re the ones who truly want what’s best for you.
Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years. Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.