Michigan law defines illegal attorney solicitation as, “a verbal or written offer, within 30 days of a car accident, to provide a service for a fee or other remuneration.” Despite this law being enacted, there are still some law firms in Michigan that will illegally solicit auto accident victims. They will do this by purchasing police reports online and contacting the injured person directly, by showing up at hospitals to sign up the injured person, or even by ringing the door bell at the injured person’s house.
These same law firms will try to hide behind an “agent” that will directly solicit the injured people. Agents that other law firms will use are medical facility employees, law enforcement employees, or even ordinary people. Whether it is a lawyer doing it or a non-lawyer doing it, IT IS ILLEGAL AND UNETHICAL.
If you are contacted by someone that you don’t know right after an auto accident, do not speak with them. It can be detrimental to your case. If you retain a law firm that illegally solicits their clients, the auto insurance carrier will most likely “red flag” your matter and put your matter under investigation. This will delay payment on your claim or even worse, could result in a dismissal of your case if fraud is found. The last thing anyone wants after an auto accident is to rack up large medical bills and then be represented by an attorney that is known by the insurance companies to illegally solicit their clients.
If you think it doesn’t matter that you were illegally solicited, wait until you are put under oath in a deposition and the first question asked by the insurance company’s attorney is, “How did you get to this law firm?” What will your answer be? The insurance company’s know the game. They know that people are illegally solicited every day and they know the law firms that do it. There really is no right answer at this point. If you say, “I was contacted by the law firm or an ‘agent’ of the law firm,” your case is now going to be in a prolonged discovery phase as the insurance company’s attorney discovers every player involved with the illegal solicitation. If you say something like, “I found this law firm in the yellow pages,” you have now lied under oath and they know it. Either way, the value of your case can be destroyed.
If you are involved in an auto accident, choosing the right attorney is important for many reasons. Choosing one that does not illegally solicit to obtain their clients is vitally important.