Car wreck victims often become instant targets for case runners. Case runners, also known as “ambulance chasers”, “cappers” or “steerers” are paid to collect and distribute the personal information of individuals involved in an auto accident or personal injury case. Information such as a person’s name and phone number is accessible to the general public. Therefore, the act of obtaining the information is not against the law. However, once a price tag is placed on the information itself, the collection, distribution and solicitation on behalf of a lawyer or law firm is deemed illegal.
Why are Case Runners Illegal?
In 2014, Georgia legislators voted to criminalize the utilization of non-lawyer “runners”. Lawyer-legislators in our state created a law against the unethical and unprofessional solicitation of clients. The new law lists several guidelines identifying the wrong way for lawyers to obtain clients. Here are a few of the main principles:
● Lawyers are strictly prohibited from hiring individual(s) to recommend their services as a resolution to meet the legal needs of a potential client.
● If financial gain is the sole motive of the legal contract, the lawyer cannot legally offer services to a personal injury claimant.
● Harassment is not allowed.
● Threats and coercion tactics are also forbidden.
Any lawyer who refuses to abide by this legislation, can be suspended or disbarred. Should an attorney lose his or her bar license, he or she is no longer able to practice law within the state. In some cases, the lawyer may face criminal penalties including a fine or time in jail!
What are Your Rights?
1. Ask questions. Always ask the caller to repeat his/her name and affiliation before you start a conversation.
2. Gauge your own comfort level. Suppose you unsuspectingly answer a phone call from a case runner. If the tone of the conversation shifts to become awkward or uncomfortable, hang up!
3. Your legal representation is your decision. No one can force you to choose a specific attorney. Ask for a personal referral from friends or family, then do your own research.