A term that refers to lawyers who solicits clients from the site of a disaster.
Ambulance Chaser Details
If you happened to be injured in a public setting, you might encounter a type of lawyer known as an ambulance chaser. As the term implies, this type of lawyer will chase ambulances to solicit a client from the injured. More often, they will contact an injured person shortly after the accident. These 'investigators' who work on the injured's behalf pay paramedics, hospital staff, and police officers for your contact information from police records and crash reports.
Ambulance chasing, or barratry, is considered unethical among attorneys and grounds for disbarment. In most all jurisdictions, it is a violation of the bar for an attorney to contact you or your family without your explicit request. These lawyers have been known to take advantage of an injured person's shocked or medicated state of mind, and may deceive the injured out of their settlement funds or mismanage the case entirely. Therefore, avoid these lawyers altogether. Instead, research before hiring someone to represent you and your best interests in a court of law.
In a more general sense, this term can be used in reference to any business with workers who profit off injury or death. It is most frequently used in the negative connotation. Going out of your way to make a profit off somebody else's injury or misfortune will likely be considered unethical more often than not.
Real World Example of an Ambulance Chaser
In attorney Brian Cuban's book 'The Addicted Lawyer,' he describes how he would go through soliciting clients as an ambulance chaser. He was a claims adjuster during this time. According to an excerpt from his book, Cuban says he developed relationships with chiropractors from around the city. He also notes that he carries contracts that will grant him a portion of any settlement or trial award and specializes in cases involving whiplash. Cuban goes on to describe how the chiropractor will recommend his legal services without the client so much as asking about Cuban's resume as a personal injury lawyer because "they just want their treatments paid for."
Finally, Cuban writes about how his unethical business with the chiropractor works both ways, "If after the sales pitch by the doctor, the patient is interested, the briefcase opens. Out comes the contingency agreement and the letter of protection, which guarantees the chiropractor payment from any eventual settlement." Cuban finishes his statement by explaining that he would do anything to avoid a courtroom and knows that he will eventually win the settlement. He also briefly recognizes the unethical procedure by admitting that he wouldn't be able to look his client in the eye.
Ambulance Chaser vs. Personal Injury Lawyers
Ambulance chasers should not be confused with legitimate personal injury lawyers. Personal injury lawyers wait for the client to approach them. They are not unscrupulous. Unlike an ambulance chaser, they will not pay for your contact information, and they are always trained professionals.