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The Michigan Auto Law Attorney Conduct Manifesto

March 2, 2015 by Steven M. Gursten

How attorneys can help stop ambulance chasing in Michigan

Last week, I ran a series of blogs outlining my 14-point plan to lower  car insurance prices in Michigan. The series was to advance some ideas on how to make No Fault insurance more affordable for the people of this state, and especially for people in cities like Detroit, while at the same time preserving the critical legal protections that No Fault provides to automobile accident victims who desperately need it. I believe we can do both.

One of the points I wrote about last week was putting a stop to “ambulance chasing” lawyers. It’s a growing problem. It has been allowed to flourish for years in this state. I’ve been told from my friends on the defense side about how the insurance companies and certain law firms now have “fraud units” dedicated to certain notorious lawyers and law firms who are strongly suspected of abusing No Fault PIP litigation. These are law firms that are working within a network of medical providers and chiropractors to churn out big medical bills and then take big attorney fees from them.

Yet year after year, nothing happens. This has led to many more struggling personal injury lawyers who have not been doing particularly well to also turn to No Fault PIP and provider fraud to follow the same illegal and unethical path of crash victim solicitation. It’s reached a point where aggressive new groups from other states have even jumped into the Michigan market.

I’ve detailed how a group of attorneys, working with (and sometimes through) runners, “No Fault victims’ rights advocates,” cappers, crooked case managers and medical providers, are all abusing the current system.  I’ve explained some of the ways they do this, in particular using police accident reports and then aggressively sending letters, calling at home, and sometimes even knocking on the doors of vulnerable people who were just involved in car accidents. In some cities, like Detroit, the abuse is especially bad.

Let’s be clear: This small but sadly rapidly growing group of lawyers and co-conspirators are now jeopardizing the future of No Fault insurance in this state. Through greed, through disdain for the image of the legal profession, and through utter contempt for the ethics and criminal solicitation laws that now exist, these lawyers are jeopardizing the future for thousands of catastrophically injured auto accident victims.

It’s one thing to write about this. It’s another to start doing something about it. We’ve received a lot of responses to our previous posts about illegal attorney solicitation of crash victims. In addition to speaking out against this, our attorneys have worked for nearly two years with the Michigan Association for Justice and the State Bar of Michigan Negligence Section on ending this ugly and demeaning practice.

I will be silent no more.

Today, I am announcing the new policy this law firm. Be fairly warned: If you are one of the attorneys in Michigan that has been illegally soliciting our clients, this is what you may now expect.

If any lawyer in this state — or your runner, “No Fault victims’ information advocate,” chiropractor, doctor, physical therapist or whatever pain clinic or medical clinic you’re working with, or anyone related to you — walks into my client’s hospital room, calls a client at home, sends letters within days of a crash, or shows up at my client’s house unannounced and uninvited, both myself and every lawyer in this office will now act.

Attorney solicitation is beyond demeaning to the image of the legal profession. It is horrifying to think about people who have just been hurt in a car accident being bombarded by letters and phone calls from attorneys.  All lawyers are being tarred by this ugly brush. And it’s not just wrong.  It’s illegal and its unethical. This problem has continued to worsen, in part, because of the silence of so many good and honorable attorneys who play by the rules and care about how the public views our profession.

The genie is now out of the bottle. Everyone has seen the huge money involved in No Fault PIP fraud, and many are now jumping onto this ambulance chasing bandwagon. Compare No Fault first-party filings 10 years ago to today. Compare showing up at case evaluation 10 years ago to today.  The number of first-party and provider lawsuits have exploded.  Today, there are more lawyers and law firms resorting to this illegal activity than I’ve ever seen in my 20 years, and it has to stop now.

Again, this is threatening the entire No Fault system in Michigan.  A few bad law firms are jeopardizing the future medical care of hundreds, even thousands, of seriously injured automobile accident victims through their selfish and illegal  actions to maximize profits.

Let’s all start working together to put a stop to this now.

Related information:

Those against attorney solicitation, please step forward

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