Soliciting Victims of Car Accidents in Massachusetts – Lessons from Kentucky
The Kentucky legislature passed a law forbidding lawyers from soliciting victims injured in motor vehicle accidents for the first thirty (30) days. While the law is intended to protect victims of motor vehicle collision, the nominal fine of $1,000 may not deter attorneys when there are wrongful death accidents or serious truck accidents.
It is not clear how consumers will be helped as the Kentucky law allows insurance companies, who clearly have an interest in resolving claims before victims have counsel, to contact injured parties.
The Kentucky rule is more restrictive than the Massachusetts rule regarding solicitation, Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7:3 Solicitation of Professional Employment. The Massachusetts Rules are essentially: a lawyer may not “coerce or harass,” use a “false or misleading communication,” solicit someone who is in a “physical, mental or emotional state” where he or she cannot “exercise reasonable judgment,” and when the prospective client clearly does not want to be solicited. Massachusetts lawyers can solicit by “written communication, including audio or video” so long as they retain a copy of the communication for two years. Specifically, the Massachusetts Rule forbids paying non-lawyers, i.e. runners, for solicitation and referrals.