Capping, & Running by Unethical Attorneys, and the Chatsworth Metrolink Accident
panzerlawyer | September 25, 2008 at 09:57 amby
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As I predicted, the State Bar of California is reportedly investigating complaints of “capping” & "running" by unethical attorneys who are seeking victims of the Chatsworth train crash by direct contact too soon after the event, and even soliciting victims right at the accident scene! In response, the State Bar of California is now contacting passengers and other victims who were injured in the recent Chatsworth Metrolink accident of September 12, 2008. I wasn’t even really shocked to hear the news. In California, it is a violation of State Bar rules and also a crime to cap. The first offense is a misdemeanor, the second, a felony. No joke.
What is Capping and Running?
Capping results when lawyers, or more often lately, their agent, send a “runner” (“running”). Runners may run to a hospital or accident scene, without first being contacted by the victim, and try and sign up their potential case. It is where the term: “ambulance chaser” comes from. The lawyer may also try and use a doctor at a hospital to "cap" your case.
Capping and use of runners by unethical attorneys causes major public perception problems, and Chatstworth Metrolink accident victims may not realize that it is unlawful, and illegal [and a low class move.] One of the many reasons these ethical rules were passed, is because lawyers hold a position of public trust. We “must know the law and mean to keep it well” (Blackstone), and lawyers also have a duty to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
Lawyers are in a position to easily abuse the public trust. Going to an accident scene, or hospital, where it is clear no person could be in a position to enter into a contract, is unfathomable. In my opinion, capping at a memorial or funeral is toxic. It makes me want to quit the law and start weaving cotton.
When a person is under the pain and excitement of an injury, a lawyer who has a friend who works at a hospital, like a doctor, may try and sign up the case. In certain situations, this is also capping. I am sure the governing medical body would have a thing or two to say about it. After all, it is illegal in California for a lawyer to pay a non lawyer a referral fee.
So anyways, I was way on top of this train safety issue, and already had written blogs, news and videos on Metrolink accidents. I have been wondering why I had not heard more attorney traffic in the personal injury community, from whomever was signing up the victims of Metro 111. But now I don’t have to wonder. It appears a large quantity of these cases were possibly swallowed up by capping and running by unethical Attorneys involved in the Chatsworth Metrolink Accident This is obviously what prompted the State Bar to send letters to the victims.
Other Unethical Train Accident Solicitations
Other unethical behavior by lawyers includes unsolicited telephone phone calls to victims. Victims can include the LAPD, Los Angeles County Fire Department, and other first responders, as well as bystanders who had family on the train, but who did not suffer objective injuries themselves. It is clear to me that it was a mistake to release the names of the accident victims so soon as was done.
This is because there is no rule prohibiting attorneys in California from contacting victims via mail, so long as they use a disclaimer, or other statement on the envelope, and within the advertisement, that it is a business solicitation. So even though not capping or running, the appearance of impropriety could easily arise when a lawyer sends a letter to the family member of someone killed in a train crash, for example.
Many Lawyers are Fighting Back to Restore the Image of the Legal Profession
The fact that many lawyers don’t appear to be regulating themselves, means more regulation ultimately. Many of the victims live in the Simi Valley, which is not a traditionally litigious area. In all events, capping, & running by unethical attorneys, and the Chatsworth Metrolink accident is just one of the many examples why lawyers need to engage in organization like the American Inns of Court, so they learn and are mentored. Legal mentors include judges both superior court, and the California Court of Appeal, as well as other lawyers. The American Inns of Court is an organization dedicated to restoring a positive public perception in the legal community.
Barry OReganThese members have powered this story: