July 13, 2016

What Constitutes Ambulance Chasing?

"Ambulance chasing" generally refers to the practice of asking someone who suffered an injury to file a lawsuit or use a particular service, such as hiring a particular attorney or using a particular doctor.

Connecticut law, as OLR Report 2015-R-0200 explains, makes it crime to solicit a person to instigate litigation or steer a party to hire an attorney or provider for the purpose of receiving compensation (CGS § 51-86). It also makes it a crime to receive or accept payment for (1) the prosecution of a claim or (2) referring a prospective client to an attorney.  Penalties for these crimes vary, with prison terms of up to three years and fines up to $5,000.

The law does not prohibit referrals between attorneys and healthcare professionals (CGS § 51-87) and sets standards for initial communication from attorneys to prospective clients to minimize undue influence.  For example, when someone is involved in a personal injury accident, an attorney must wait at least 40 days to contact that individual (CGS § 51-87a). When communication is permitted, it must be as outlined in the Connecticut Rules of Professional Conduct, which includes rules for sending correspondence to prospective clients when attempting to obtain professional employment.

Click here to read the report.