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Don’t Fall Victim to Scams

What You Need to Know About Ambulance Chasers & Runners.


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Have you heard the term “ambulance chaser” without understanding exactly what it means?

An “ambulance chaser” refers to doctors, chiropractors, and even lawyers who will illegally solicit victims of car accidents. This is known as barratry.

/’berətrē/: refers to a lawyer soliciting for clients at a disaster site. The term “ambulance chasing” comes from the stereotype of lawyers that follow ambulances to the emergency room to find clients.

Lawyers that operate this scam and their runners are interested in turning your pain into their profit.

This practice is not only unethical it is illegal in the state of Texas. While it may not seem like a big deal, it is against the law for a very good reason. Ambulance chasers speak with victims during extremely vulnerable times and the wrong step can prevent them from obtaining the legal protection they deserve.

Know the signs of illegal solicitation and learn what you can do to protect yourself or loved one from it.

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How does the Barratry (Ambulance Chasers) Scam Work?

What frequently takes place is that a “runner”, working for a law firm, will approach you shortly after a car accident to persuade you to work with their specific firm. Their commission is usually taken from your compensation. Compensation that is meant to be yours and yours alone.

The alarming truth is that runners can be just about anyone: police officers, nurses, doctors, mechanics, funeral home directors, tow truck drivers, body shop workers – anyone.

Keep in mind, however, that while Texas law prohibits any direct contact in-person or by phone until 30 days after an accident, an advertisement or mass mailing letter not personally addressed to the individual recipient constitutes a form of advertising.

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How did they know who I was and about my situation?

You may not realize it but police records and crash reports are available through open record laws. As noted on the Texas Department of Public Safety website, “The Public Information Act guarantees the public access to information maintained by a government agency.”

This loophole in the system allows for lawyers and their “investigators” to obtain your home address and phone number. After an accident, you may begin to receive calls from these ambulance chasers who will try and persuade you to sign a contract.

The purpose of these lawyers is to take advantage of your situation and to make money for themselves.

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Warning Signs.

If you have experienced any of the following, you may have been a victim of barratry:

Have you received a phone call from someone stating that a family member told them to call you?
If this happened, did the person know the name of your family member? Did your family member later deny asking anyone to call you? This could be a red flag.

Did someone approach you while you were recovering at a hospital or in rehabilitation? Some runners will do this claiming to be an “investigator.” They will ask you about the injuries you have received and other aspects of your car accident.

Were you coerced by another individual to contact a particular lawyer? If you were approached by any individual to contact a law firm, you may have been a victim of barratry.

Did someone approach you when you were at your loved one’s funeral? Not only is barratry illegal, having someone approach you during a vulnerable time like the loss of a loved one is absolutely reprehensible.

Were you promised some type of gift by a lawyer or his/her runner? – A respectable lawyer will never approach you during such a sensitive time in order to gain your business. Not only is it unethical, it is against the law.

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What Should I do if I’m a Victim?

  1. If you received a call from a solicitor, make note of their name, what time they contacted you, what they said, and who they represent.
  2. Save any business cards or other forms of contact information they may have given you.
  3. Mark down all the details of what happened regarding the illegal solicitation, making sure that you include every minute detail you can think of.
  4. Contact an experienced attorney for a possible barratry claim.
  5. Do not make a major decision right after the accident. You are likely to be disoriented and anxious. Give yourself some time (a few days) to go over the situation and decide what is in your best interest.

Don’t Let Them Take Advantage of Your Injury

Barratry isn’t something that is taken lightly in the field of law. It is an offense that takes advantage of innocent victims when they are going through enough hardships as is. Work with an attorney that has a great reputation and actually cares about your situation.

Don’t let your injury be taken advantage. Stay aware and informed about ambulance chasers.

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KGBT Channel 4

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