An ambulance chaser is a term used to describe unethical lawyers who illegally solicit clients. These lawyers’ tactics seek to take advantage of victims at a very vulnerable time for the benefit of their business. Ambulance chasing and soliciting clients is illegal in 17 states, and is considered unethical by the American Bar Association.
It’s rare for a lawyer to actually do the soliciting. Rather, ambulance chasing lawyers will use a network of first responders, physicians, and insurance claims adjusters to learn personal information about victims. Regardless of how it happens, ambulance chasing is a massive red flag and the clearest signal that you should avoid a lawyer at all costs.
Is Solicitation Illegal for Lawyers in Wisconsin?
Yes, solicitation or ambulance chasing is illegal in Wisconsin. While the state doesn’t have a law explicitly barring ambulance chasing tactics, Wisconsin’s Rules for Professional Conduct for Attorneys states that lawyers can’t solicit victims when their primary motive is financial. Likewise, the Rules for Professional Conduct bans lawyers from paying others to do things that would violate professional conduct rules if done by their lawyer.
These rules are strict. For example, say that you were injured in a car crash. You ask a friend who knows a lawyer to have them call you. Even in this case, where you have specifically requested the lawyer contact you, the lawyer would be violating these rules if they do so.
How to Recognize an Ambulance Chaser
While ambulance chasers are a detriment to the legal profession and a risk to their clients, a well-informed person isn’t at risk of falling for their tactics, as they’re easy to spot. First, remember that it’s illegal for a lawyer to solicit you. If they’re willing to break professional conduct rules to get you as a client, they’re not someone you should trust with something as serious as getting compensation for your injuries.
Other major red flags include:
- Strangers visiting you in the hospital
- Strangers showing up at the scene of your crash or in the hospital and refers you to an attorney
- A lawyer or someone representing a lawyer ‘guarantees’ that they can win your case
Generally speaking, ambulance chasers can be identified for their disregard of your privacy or the fact that you have just been through a traumatizing experience. Remember, it’s not uncommon to be referred to an attorney after being in an accident. What is uncommon for strangers to show up following accidents just to do so.
How to Deal With Ambulance Chasers
Ambulance chasing lawyers will stoke fear, uncertainty, and doubt to coerce you into working with them or the lawyer they represent. They’ll exploit your vulnerability to encourage a poor decision. Not only can this be intimidating and anxiety-inducing, it can lead to you recovering far less damages than you’re entitled to.
If someone representing a lawyer solicits you, tell them to leave. If they start asking about your accident, injuries, or other details, be careful not to tell them any additional information.
Finally, try to keep a level head. Like with many unethical business practices, there are certain kernels of truth in what an ambulance chaser will tell you. They’ll tell you that having professional legal representation is important, and it’s the truth. What an ambulance chaser won’t tell you is that you should be the one to make that decision.
How to Find a Lawyer You Can Trust
When looking for a lawyer you can trust, here are some steps to follow:
- Seek recommendations from friends or family who may have worked with a personal injury attorney in the past. Talk to them about their experiences and ask for their advice.
- Once you have a list of potential attorneys, reach out to them for further discussions. Treat these initial conversations like interviews and ask questions to assess whether they’re a good fit for your case.
- Interview multiple attorneys to find the best fit for your needs. Good lawyers will understand your desire to explore options and may even refer you to another attorney if they believe they won’t be able to do your case justice.
- Look for lawyers who work on a contingency basis. This means they will only charge you fees if your case reaches a settlement or a court verdict. If a lawyer demands fees upfront, they might not be as dedicated to the final result.
By following these steps, you can increase your chances of finding a lawyer who’s well-suited to handle your case.
About Pasternak & Zirgibel
While ambulance chasing attorneys’ disregard for victims earns our profession the worst type of attention, they don’t share the values of most personal injury attorneys. The vast majority of the attorneys we know have outstanding moral fiber and want the best for their clients. That said, when a firm’s business interests are so large, it places a limit on the quality of representation that its clients receive.
Take settlement mills for example. These firms’ advertisements plaster billboards, buses, and TV screens across Wisconsin. But that advertising spend is bankrolled by a steady stream of settlements, which is more profitable for those firms than taking cases to court and fighting for every penny a victim deserves.
Alternatively, boutique personal injury practices go the distance with their clients. They’ll work closely with you and your family, undeterred by the prospect of drawn-out court battles.
When you work with Pasternak and Zirgibel, your case will personally be handled by Frank Pasternak or Jeff Zirgibel. You can depend on their dedication to getting you the maximum damages possible, even if it means taking the insurance company to court.
To schedule a free initial consultation with trusted attorneys, get in touch with Pasternak and Zirgebel today!