Everyone has heard the term “ambulance chasers.” It’s a term that has been adopted as one of the general stereotypes pertaining to personal injury attorneys, that conjures images of lawyers running after ambulances and showing up at the scenes of car accidents, all to land their next big client.
Is Case Running Illegal?
More often than not, “ambulance chasing” is carried out not by attorneys, but by others known as “runners”. Case runners are not licensed to practice law. Rather, they are hired by accident attorneys to do whatever is necessary to get accident victims to hire a personal injury lawyer. And it doesn’t stop there. After the runner gets the injured accident victim to hire the lawyer, the victim is then coerced into going to a doctor who also works with the runner.
In order for these predatory “runners” to find their prey, they listen to police scanners; offer significant cash bribes to accident victims; they confuse the injured accident victims with false information; and, before an ambulance arrives, offer them rides right from the accident scene to a medical office, where the runner will get paid a handsome “referral fee” by the doctors- thousands of dollars. Sometimes, the runners don’t get to the accident scene in time to lure accident victims away from proper medical care. But that doesn’t stop these runners from harassing accident victims. Hospital workers, ambulance drivers, even police officers will sell these runners your most personal information for hefty prices. Armed with this information, runners and ambulance chasers will visit houses, text, call, and write accident victims until they relent.
Make no mistake about it- hustling cases like this is illegal and unethical. But since there is more money to be made selling accident victims and their personal, private information to the highest bidder than there is selling drugs on the street; the “runners” aren’t running scared. Instead, they are running all the way to the bank.
What Does a Case Runner Do?
Prosecuting runners, unfortunately, is not a high priority for law enforcement; and why would it be? After all, why would any police officer bite the hand that feeds them? Moreover, even after learning who case runners are and what they do, many accident victims do not understand that they should avoid working with one. While your case is being sold to doctors and lawyers, precious time is wasted. Time during which a proper investigation into the circumstances surrounding your accident should have been conducted, but wasn’t. Time during which papers important to preserve your claim could have been filed, but wasn’t. And time during which you could be getting legal advice from an honest attorney with your best interests in mind, instead of being thrown to the wolves. Keep in mind, of course, that these runners don’t care about getting your car repaired, or getting your medical bills paid, or securing vital evidence to prove your case. All they want is the highest price for their “services”.
How to Tell if You Have Been Approached by a Case Runner
When a car accident victim is first injured, it is a confusing time, and often difficult for them to know if they are being ‘hustled’ by a runner. Runners are fairly obvious. They have aggressive tactics and prey on injured accident victims when they are at their worst. Here are a few of the signs that the person who approaches you is a runner:
- They are a stranger to you
- They visit you in your hospital room without your knowledge
- They called you shortly after the accident
- They are asking about your injuries despite not being your doctor
- They try to refer you to a “medical clinic”
- They offer you a ride to the “medical clinic”
- They refer you to an accident lawyer
- They offer you money
Why You Should Avoid Case Runners
If you think the person who approached you is a runner, walk away! Tell them to leave! With just a few minutes of research on your computer or iPhone, you can find yourself an honest, reputable personal injury attorney. Sincere personal injury lawyers want to help their clients. They know that accident victims do not always understand their rights, and want to make sure those rights are upheld. And they know the dangers of runners. They can help anyone who has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, including those hurt by runners themselves.
Contact an Honest Personal Injury Attorney in Long Island
If you feel you have been duped by a runner, contact the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP at 516-358-6900 or online at www.CohenJaffe.com. Do not settle for thinking that placing your case in the wrong hands at first is hopeless. We can help you. Your initial consultation is free.