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When it comes to pejorative phrases that get directed at attorneys, none are more dreaded than the oft cast lampoon: Ambulance chaser. The simple fact is that attorneys cannot chase ambulances without risking their most valuable asset, their license to practice.
Recently, a Texas state representative, Ron Reynolds, had his conviction upheld on appeal of a scheme to solicit clients after car crashes and hospitalizations by using a third party. While Reynolds wasn't lacing up his running shoes and taking to the streets, the third party reviewed police reports of injury accidents in order to contact victims for medical services, and then would refer those injury victims to Reynolds for legal representation. And though getting referrals from medical providers doesn't violate ethical rules, the fact that Reynolds allegedly paid the third party in cash for the referrals changes the scenario rather drastically.
The phrase ambulance chaser really cuts many personal injury attorneys deeply as serving people when they encounter legal trouble securing compensation after an injury is truly a noble task, and one that involves a significant amount of financial risk. The public generally doesn't get that individuals are basically ants compared to the goliath that is the insurance industry ... that is until they're trying to negotiate with an adjuster that's expertly trained to minimize the payout every which way possible.
Personal injury attorneys truly do have their work cut out for them. Even the lawyers that advertise on late night TV, and especially the ones that take low value cases, are providing the public with a benefit. But try as we might to dispel the urban legend of the ambulance chasing lawyer, it is one that is firmly rooted in popular culture.
Ron Reynolds has had a rather turbulent few years, but still managed to secure re-election as a state representative. In 2016, Reynolds' license to practice was suspended in connection with a matter where he failed to pay the settlement proceeds to a victim's mother.
Interestingly, since Texas law does not prohibit someone convicted of a misdemeanor from holding office, he has not stepped down from office. He remains out on bond and plans to appeal the matter further. He is facing a one year sentence if his conviction is upheld again.
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