Sunday, January 26, 2014

How Should We Fight Off The Ambulance Chasers?

It's an ever recurring scenario after you've been involved in an auto collision. As Radar in the hit series M*A*S*H* used to yell: "INCOMING!" Within a few days, here come the solicitation letters, DVD's, glossy brochures, "books" delivered to your door. And now texts from so called "injury help centers," which are buffer groups that are trying to funnel injury victims to certain medical providers and attorneys.

If you search this blog you'll see that I have railed against these practices as the worst thing to happen to our profession ever. It has been our ill fated version of "Pickett's Charge," and it has been slaughtering and maiming the already fragile reputation of personal injury attorneys for years.

Until recently, it appeared that texting accident victims was the next shiny object for the solicitation crowd in a race to the bottom to sign up clients. But now it appears there is a new twist: Some firms are now contacting accident victims who've already hired another attorney or firm to represent them!

What I suspect is happening is these firms are offering to represent the client for a lower contingent fee in an attempt to lure the client to them and away from their original attorney.

The response of personal injury attorneys who engage in none of this crap has been predictable. "Client stealing" is one of the more G rated accusations some of my colleagues have thrown out. I don't disagree. But I have a different take, and a few rules for anyone who might consider hiring us for their personal injury case:

1. If you hire us, you're free to leave and discharge us at any time. More than the terms of the contract, the attorney-client relationship is one of feel. It is one of trust and having a comfort level with your attorney. If it doesn't feel right or like a good fit, then maybe it isn't.

2. If you hire us and then receive calls from other law firms, we would expect the courtesy of a phone call to us, discussing what you were told and by whom.

3. If you hire us, only to jump to another firm days or weeks later for a lower rate, I wish you all the best with your new best buds. If you are that fickle and willing to get rid of us at the drop of a hat AND violate Rule No 2., we were probably not meant for each other anyway.

We've been handling personal injury cases for 25 years now. We don't solicit anyone to be their lawyers and never will. 90% of our business is word of mouth (and we know this because we keep track). We don't have a revolving door at our entrance. We have no fancy jingles and slick phone numbers.

Somehow, our phone still manages to ring anyway....


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