I recently helped a client injured by an accident caused by drinking in Midtown Atlanta. As a personal injury lawyer, I tell most all friends of my desire to help people injured in accidents caused by drinking and my dedication to personal injury law. In this case, a drunk driver was going the wrong way on Ponce De Leon Avenue in Midtown Atlanta and hit my client head-on. After the accident, the drunk driver attempted to leave the scene but was unable because the impact damaged the axle to his car. The DUI driver was arrested and charged with the accident, which had been caused by his drinking. I ultimately settled the case for policy limits (referring to the maximum available liability insurance coverage). It so happens, a mutual friend of the client knew he had been injured in a accident caused by a drinking driver and suggested that he call me since I practice in Midtown Atlanta. This is considered the classic “referral.” All client relationships were once formed this way. A lawyer’s reputation prompted referrals from members of the community. Today, lawyer perception is at an all time low, particularly here in Atlanta, Midtown and Fulton County. And this perception prompts the question, do lawyers really chase ambulances?
Here are some inside facts: (1) legitimate personal injury lawyers don’t chase ambulances; (2) legitimate personal injury lawyers turn down more cases than they take.
Legitimate Personal Injury Lawyers Don’t Chase Ambulances. Ambulance chasing refers to the practice of collecting accident reports and then soliciting individuals in the report. Unfortunately, the practice is sanctioned to a degree in that it is legal for one to collect accident reports; at least here in Atlanta and Fulton County, Georgia. However, a related practice called “running” is illegal. Running refers to the practice of a lawyer paying someone to solicit a potential client. This is distinguished from a traditional referral whereby a mutual contact suggests a referral to the personal injury lawyer. The difference between the two is that no money or payment in kind is offered for the traditional referral. Most all personal injury lawyers, especially here in Atlanta and Fulton County, are hard working and dedicated individuals who would never resort to running. Legitimate personal injury lawyers don’t chase ambulances by paying runners to solicit potential clients.
Legitimate Lawyers Turn Down More Cases they Take. Over the course of a year, a personal injury lawyer can talk to perhaps hundreds of potential clients, particularly here in Atlanta and Fulton County. Not all cases are worthy. Personal Injury Lawyers get paid for winning cases (based on their contingency fee). A “contingency fee” means the personal injury lawyer gets paid a percentage of the settlement. If the case doesn’t settle, the personal injury lawyer doesn’t get paid- and this is true for all lawyers in Atlanta and Georgia. A personal injury lawyer doesn’t earn fees for taking losing cases. If a personal injury lawyer takes every case indiscriminately, she is likely taking a heavy collection of losing cases and this means she’ll starve. This is true even if the accident was caused by drinking. Hence, a legitimate personal injury lawyer typically screens potential clients very carefully to determine if their case has merit.