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Ambulance chaser

From Academic Kids

An ambulance chaser is a derogatory term for an unethical lawyer, especially those who represent plaintiffs in personal injury actions.

Origin

The term is derived from lawyers who followed ambulances to the hospital after a person was injured (usually determined to be such through the lawyer's use of a personal police/fire radio scanner in order to attempt to drum up business by convincing the victim that they need to sue, or by simply being the first lawyer in contact with the victim, generally when the victim is most easily talked into suing (prone to suggestion).

In many jurisdictions, lawyers can be disbarred if caught engaging in such unethical behavior. Bar associations regularly dispatch investigators to large-scale disaster scenes to look out for ambulance chasers or their non-lawyer agents (known as "cappers" or "runners").

It is true that lawyers are permitted to advertise their services through the news media and on billboards, and develop friendships with people who may become clients in the distant future (in fact many join country clubs and businessmens' groups for this express purpose). However, as a matter of professional ethics, the start of the lawyer-client relationship should ideally be a voluntary inquiry on the client's part (and not an unsolicited sales pitch by the lawyer to a badly injured and heavily drugged hospital patient).

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