Q: My mother was in a car accident last week, and already she's gotten letters from lawyers
asking if she's ok, and if she wants a lawyer? Is it ethical for a lawyer to send such a letter?
A: First, I hope she is feeling better. Second, in limited circumstances in New York, it may be
'acceptable' for an attorney to send such a letter to a victim of an accident. However, new ethical rules
say that a lawyer may not send an unsolicited letter to a victim's family within the first 30 days of the
In any event, the majority of lawyers feel such a letter to a victims' home is demeaning and degrading.
Some lawyers feel this is nothing but a solicitation, which is clearly not permitted in New York. Other
attorneys (the ones who send these letters) feel that it may be their only chance to entice the injured
victim to come to them as a client.
The letter is supposed to only offer them legal assistance and guidance- should they want it. Again, how
do you choose which attorney to use when you're inundated with a flood of letters from different
lawyers promising to help you with your accident claim?
The answer is simpler than you think. Ask yourself why an attorney would even bother to send such a
letter. Are they really that desperate to need to send such a letter? How did they get your name anyway?
I'll tell you how- maybe it came from the tow truck operator who took your car away. Maybe it was
from an ambulance technician. Maybe it was from a police blotter at the police station. (That's public
information that many investigators working for lawyers troll for in various police stations).
Ask yourself another question. Do you let a stranger into your house simply because he says he saw you
need a paint job, and amazingly, he's a painter who is willing to paint your house for a great price? Did
you call him? No. Did you seek out other customers of his to determine if he's reliable and professional?
No. He just showed up while trolling through the neighborhood. Is this the type of painter you want
working on and in your house? I don't think so.
The same rationale holds true for a lawyer that sends you an unsolicited letter following an accident.
What do you know about that lawyer? Probably nothing. Does that mean that he (or she) isn't a good
lawyer? No. But, again, think who you want for your attorney. Does it help knowing that your lawyer
gets many cases this way, by sending out unsolicited lawyer letters hoping that a few unknowing people
will answer the letter? The choice, as always is yours. Make an informed choice.
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