If you’re injured in an accident, you run the risk of falling victim to a scam involving unethical lawyers and people known as case runners or cappers. These lawyers pay them to recruit clients. Runners and the lawyers they work for are the unethical and illegal underbelly of personal injury lawsuits.
What is a Case Runner?
Case runners, also known as ambulance chasers, make a living by finding people who may be injured and have grounds for a lawsuit against a responsible party. They may listen to police radio transmissions and appear at accident scenes.
A runner may seem very friendly and helpful, but they’re not doing you any favors. They’re taking advantage of you when you’re injured, stressed, confused, and vulnerable. A runner may give you a business card so you can call them—some runners bribe law enforcement officers for accident victims’ names and contact information.
How Do Runners Work for Lawyers?
If you agree to be represented by an attorney through a runner, that lawyer will illegally and unethically pay the runner for bringing them your case. What are the chances an attorney who’s breaking the law and the rules of professional conduct will fully and effectively represent you? Just about zero.
They will do the bare minimum on your case and convince you to settle quickly for less than your case is worth so the attorney can get a contingency fee. These lawyers focus on getting as many clients as possible. They invest little time in cases and settle them quickly to keep up their cash flow.
The practices of ambulance chasers are known as “lawsuit mills.” They’re like factories, filing lawsuits like businesses churn out products.
What Makes This Unethical and Illegal?
Those practicing law in Texas need to comply with the rules of professional conduct. If they don’t, they face discipline, including having their license suspended for a time, or they could be disbarred (their ability to practice law is taken away). The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct state:
- Rule 7.03(e): “A lawyer shall not pay, give, or offer to pay or give anything of value to a person not licensed to practice law for soliciting or referring prospective clients for professional employment…”
- Rule 8.04(a)(1): “A lawyer shall not: Violate these rules, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another…”
When a lawyer pays a runner for your case, they commit a crime (a class A misdemeanor for the first offense, or a third-degree felony if they’ve been convicted before). If you fall victim to one of these schemes, state statute empowers you to sue to void the lawyer’s contract.
If you’re successful, you can recover:
- Fees and expenses you paid the attorney
- Damages for any harm you suffered
- A $10,000 penalty
- Fees and costs for suing the attorney
You may also have a legal malpractice claim against them if the attorney negligently represented you and you suffered a monetary loss.
What are Warning Signs a Runner is Contacting Me?
A stranger may appear at the accident scene, in your hospital room, or at home. If you’re at the crash scene, they may offer you a ride before an ambulance arrives. They will talk about your injuries, a lawyer, lawsuits, and money you may earn by filing a case. They may offer you cash if you retain a particular attorney.
What Should I Do if a Runner Contacts Me?
Tell them you’re not interested. If the runner persists or you want to take action, ask for their name, phone number, and the name of the attorney they’re working with. Tell them you’ll call them back. Instead, call the police and file a complaint. You can also file a grievance against the attorney with the State Bar of Texas.
In a Serious Car Crash? Contact The Law Giant for Help
If you or a loved one is injured in a vehicle accident, you need an attorney you can trust. Any ambulance chaser doesn’t deserve your trust. They deserve to be disbarred and arrested. Our attorneys will act in your best interests, treat you with respect, and do everything we can so you will achieve the best possible outcome.
After receiving medical attention, contact Begum Law Group Injury Lawyers right away. With our skilled, ethical representation by your side, you may be able to secure full and fair compensation for your damages.
Contact us at 866-523-4157 to schedule a free case evaluation at our Brownsville, McAllen, or San Antonio offices.