Think Twice about That “Helpful Witness” to Your Car Accident; He or She May Be Illegally Soliciting Business

In the moments after a crash, especially if you are hurt, the appearance of a kindly stranger who claims to have seen the whole thing happen might seem like a true stroke of luck. In reality, that so-called “Good Samaritan” may have been sent by an unethical ambulance chaser who’s looking to make some money off your pain.

Since Nevada doesn’t allow attorneys to solicit accident victims directly, some turn to “runners” or “cappers” – non-attorneys who do their direct solicitation for them. These cappers are often people who claims to have seen the collision and just want to help, or who assist in other elements of the incident which caused your injury. Common examples of cappers and runners include:

  • Tow truck drivers
  • Rideshare drivers
  • Medical personnel (EMS, nurses, hospital employees, etc.)
  • Insurance agencies
  • Repair shops
  • General contractors

Runners and cappers will attempt to steer you toward the legal services of a certain attorney or firm whose business cards they just so happen to have on them as they hitch your car up for a tow, or while they show you pictures they took of the accident. Or, maybe they’re in the waiting room listening to your talk about the accident, and they just so happen to have had a similar experience as you; they sing the praises of XYZ Law Firm and suggest you call.

Even if you turned down the services of one runner or capper, it doesn’t mean there isn’t another one waiting in the wings. That “helpful” to truck driver may contact another capper at the hospital to let them know you’re on your way.

In reality, these men and women are paid handsomely by those firms and/or attorneys to drum up business. And attorneys who hire a runner or capper are not only behaving in unethical and deceptive practices; they’re also breaking the law.

A lawyer who doesn’t think twice about breaking these laws is not going to think twice about your representation, either. And you could find yourself on the wrong side of an investigation by your own insurance companies, who are likely to deem your claim “suspicious.” Instead of getting the help you need at the time you need it most, you can find yourself dealing with bills collectors and unable to work while a Special Investigations Unit reviews your claim – if it isn’t denied outright.

How do I know if my attorney recommendation was legitimate?

There are helpful people out there who are trying to do the right thing. We should know; we have helped countless injury victims who came to us from word-of-mouth referrals by previous clients and other law firms.

But there’s a big difference between someone who recommends a law firm because he or she has had a good experience with the attorneys, and a person who is pushing a law firm on you to make a profit. If you feel pressured by a tow truck driver, medical professional, or any other non-lawyer to call a certain firm, recognize it as a red flag.

One of the most important decisions you’ll make when you’re filing a personal injury lawsuit is choosing the right attorney for your needs. Don’t let anyone force you into picking a lawyer you’re not comfortable using, or make you feel like you must decide right this moment on who will represent you.

Were you a victim of illegal attorney solicitation in Nevada?

If you hired a personal injury attorney to represent you but believe you were the victim of illegal solicitation, there is some good news: you are not stuck with that unethical attorney. Under Nevada Revised Statute 7.045, illegal solicitation can render that contract void, which means you can work with a trustworthy lawyer of your choosing. In fact, under Nevada law, you may be entitled to additional compensation for any attorney fees and expenses that you already paid out, even if your case settled.

Claggett & Sykes takes its commitment to its clients and to the justice system very, very seriously. Good people can suffer even more at the hands of unethical lawyers. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have.