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Case “Runners” Are Back Because They Never Left . . . And Are Battling It Out in Court


We have all heard the terms “ambulance chasers” or “case runners” used to describe unethical practices of personal injury law firms. Even the general public is familiar with these terms, mostly from the use of them in comedy sketches or bad “dad” jokes. It seems that something that we have known to be true, but what we hoped was a dwindling practice only used in the least entertaining of circumstances has once again found its way to the limelight – and in a somewhat surprising turn of events, plaintiff attorneys are suing other plaintiff attorneys for the illegal and unethical practice.

Case “runners” are used to obtain the identities of people involved in motor vehicle accidents before the police report is made public. The “runners” then solicit these people to sign up with law firms. Georgia previously enacted a statute making it illegal to engage in the practice of using case “runners,” which is codified as O.C.G.A. § 33-24-53. Not only is this practice illegal, but it is a violation of the Georgia Rule of Professional Conduct 7.3.

While virtually everyone knows that the use of “runners” occurs, it is incredibly difficult to prove. In a somewhat surprising turn events, a plaintiff attorney is now suing two plaintiff law firms (Cambre & Associates, LLC and Kaila & Solomon Law Group, LLC d/b/a Guardian Law Group) based on allegations that clients/former clients advised they were approached by the firms/runner operating on behalf of the firms and pressured into signing representation agreements with the firms.

Specifically, the complaints allege that these law firms monitor crash events, collect crash victim data from reports and other sources, and then directly contact those crash victims and solicit the victims as clients using “case runners.” The complaints further allege that such solicitation occurs within days or even hours after a victim’s collision. The complaints refer to businesses such as “buy crash” and those who work within them as “conspirators” in the scheme of illegal solicitation of clients. Accordingly, the attorneys who filed suit also made allegations of racketeering activity whereby these law firms and the “conspirators” obtain crash victim’s personal data through computer networks without authorization. Once the information is obtained, the complaints allege that these lawyers tell the victims they need a lawyer as soon as possible and assure victims that they can send them to medical providers to “help them out.”

The recent light shed on this long-standing issue makes asking the hard questions even more important. Defense attorneys must pay particular attention to seeking out information about the method of a client’s attorney contact and referral throughout the discovery process. To the extent you have ongoing claims with either of these firms, be sure the handling counsel is aware of the issue and asks the appropriate questions during depositions about how contact with the firm was initiated. Whether or not these civil suits will be successful in deterring certain law firms from engaging in these practices is something only time will tell. In the meantime, we can do our best to closely monitor the two firms being accused of using such practices. We will keep you updated on any new filings in the pending lawsuits and on any new firms who are sued.