You must always be cautious of strangers who contact you after an accident if they try to get you to sign on with a particular law firm. These individuals often called “runners” or other names like “door-knockers” and “cappers,” are middlemen in a fraud scheme arranged by either a medical provider, a lawyer, or sometimes both.
What is a “Runner’s” Job?
Runners call or visit the hospitals and homes of people who were recently in a car, motorcycle, or truck wreck and try to manipulate them into working with a particular law firm. If they are successful, they get a percentage of the settlement or a set fee for each person they lure into accepting their offer.
Runners only make money by bringing on new clients. So they use deceitful tactics to mislead and manipulate accident victims into believing their only chance of getting compensation is by working together.
You May Have Been a Victim
Many accident victims don’t know they got tricked into an illegal solicitation scam. That’s because runners often hide in plain sight, working in positions we are supposed to trust the most after a car, motorcycle, or truck accident.
How to Spot a Runner
Below are common “disguises” runners use to trap unsuspecting victims without realizing it. You may have been a victim if you answer “Yes” to any of the following questions in the scenarios below:
- Family Reference: Did you receive a phone call from someone claiming that your family asked them to call you? Did they already know your family members’ names? Did your family later tell you that they never asked anyone to call?
- Accident Investigator: Did someone approach you while you were in the hospital? Did they claim to be an “investigator” or “service provider” and ask questions about your injuries?
- Emergency Official: Did a police officer or other emergency official convince you to call a lawyer at the accident scene? Did they pressure you to hire a particular attorney?
- Vehicle Servicemen: Did a tow truck driver or car mechanic persuade you to call an attorney? Did they have a specific law office they recommended?
- Legal Expert: Did your lawyer or someone acting on their behalf give you gifts to get you to sign?
Ethical lawyers do not offer gifts or “bonus money” to get you to become a client. They don’t hire telemarketers to call accident victims uninvited. And they never approach you at sensitive times in the days following an accident.
Indiana Law on Illegal Solicitation
Indiana laws protect accident victims from law firms that attempt illegal solicitation efforts. Below is a list of guidelines lawyers must follow when trying to earn your business:
- A lawyer cannot contact you within 30 days of your accident unless you contact them first. Even after 30 days, they still cannot use intentionally misleading tactics to earn your business or keep harassing you if you already said “no” to their offer.
- All written communications from lawyers must be marked “Advertisement” unless you are already their client.
- Lawyers cannot pay someone to act as a “runner” to get clients. If the person approaching you receives a commission, bonus, kickback, gift, or any other payment for signing on your case, it is a violation of ethics rules.
These violations are treated very seriously. Lawyers who break these rules can be disbarred and lose the right to practice law. Being disbarred is the most severe punishment the Indiana Supreme Court can hand down, but it is considered a fair punishment for illegal solicitation.
What to Do if You Suspect a “Runner” is Contacting You
- Get the name and phone number of the person calling you.
- Ask them what lawyer they are working with on these cases.
- If they deny working with a lawyer, ask them what doctor.
- As soon as you know the runner’s name, the attorney, and the doctor, tell the person calling you that you appreciate the information and then tell them that you do not want them to represent you and they should never call you again.
Don’t Let a Runner Ruin Your Case
Attorneys that use runners are not looking out for your best interests, which can seriously jeopardize the value of your case. So if you’re involved in a wreck, try your best to avoid working with a runner. If a suspicious stranger contacts you offering to help, call Ken Nunn right away.
Attorney Ken Nunn is a Top Rated Lawyer in legal ability and ethical standards*. The Ken Nunn Law Office is here for you. With years of experience and a talented team of lawyers, Ken Nunn will help you get all of the money you are legally owed for your injuries. Call 1-800-CALL-KEN or fill out the online form to get started.
*Martindale Hubbell Lawyer Rating Services