Lawyers and doctors who pay runners for injured clients in motor vehicle accident cases are breaking the criminal laws of the State of Georgia!
Our Constitution guarantees the right to free speech, and advertising, as long as it is not false, fraudulent, or misleading, is free speech. See Alexander v. Cahill, 598 F.3d 79 (2010), Harrell v. The Florida Bar, 608 F.3d 1241 (2010), and Public Citizen, Inc. v. Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, 632 F.3d 212 (2011). However, it is a crime for an attorney or a doctor to employ “runners” to bring them injured clients in motor vehicle accident cases. O.C.G.A. 33-24-53.
Subsections (a), (d), and (e) of that law provide that:
(a) In a claim arising out of a motor vehicle accident, a lawyer shall not compensate or give anything of value to a person or organization to recommend or secure his employment by a client, or as a reward for having made a recommendation resulting in his employment by a client; except that he may pay for public communications permitted by Standard 5 of Bar Rule 4-102 and the usual and reasonable fees or dues charged by a bona fide lawyer referral service operated by an organization authorized by law and qualified to do business in this state; provided, however, such organization has filed with the State Disciplinary Board, at least annually, a report showing its terms, its subscription charges, agreements with counsel, the number of lawyers participating, and the names and addresses of lawyers participating in the service. Upon conviction of an offense provided for by this subsection, the prosecutor shall certify such conviction to the disciplinary board of the State Bar of Georgia for appropriate action. Such action may include a suspension or disbarment.
(d) A person may not receive compensation, a reward, or anything of value in return for providing names, addresses, telephone numbers, or other identifying information of victims involved in motor vehicle accidents to an attorney or health care provider which results in employment of the attorney or health care provider by the victims for purposes of a motor vehicle insurance claim or suit. Attempts to circumvent this Code section through use of any other person, including, but not limited to, employees, agents, or servants, shall also be prohibited. This provision shall not prohibit an attorney or health care provider from making a referral and receiving compensation as is permitted under applicable professional rules of conduct.
(e) Any person who violates any provision of this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude.
Georgia appellate courts have defined a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude as “an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellow man, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man.” See Norley v. State, 170 Ga. App. 249 (1984).
CITIZENS SHOULD REPORT AMBULANCE CHASERS TO LAW ENFORCEMENT!
Please join me in helping to eradicate the despicable, and criminal, practice of hiring runners to bring attorneys and doctors new clients from motor vehicle accidents. As a lawyer and member of the Georgia State Bar’s Fair Market Practices committee until it was dismantled, I appreciate the public’s diligence and responsible reporting of these crimes.
Click to watch a video about a Georgia sting operation.