You're online looking for information and you decide to do a Google search for your name. You see a lawyer's website with your name on it and you can't understand why your name would be on a lawyer's website, so you click on it. What do you find?

You may see your name mentioned in a sentence about an accident you were in. Buy you still ask yourself, "Why would my name show up on a lawyer's website?" There are a few reasons why, but let me tell you the most likely reason:

There are law firms who subscribe to news feeds of car accidents in their local area. They will usually include the victim's name and the location where the accident occurred. Why would a law firm do this? To catch your attention. It's as simple as that. They hope that because your name somehow appears on their website that they can somehow help you with a possible car accident lawsuit.

Let me ask you this question...

If someone you don't know knocks at your door on a Sunday afternoon and tells you they were just driving by and noticed that your house could use a paint job and they happen to be a painter, do you automatically invite them in and tell them to get started painting your house?

If a dentist sent you a postcard telling you that you need a root canal without ever having met you, do you rush out and get a root canal just because you got a postcard in the mail? If your name shows up on a lawyer's website, without you ever meeting or knowing anything about this law firm, does that make you rush to call them to see if you have a valid case?

It's one thing if you know the lawyer or the law firm and they're educating the public about something involving car accidents and giving information that injury victims need to know about. It's another thing when someone you don't know simply throws your name up on their website in the hope that you will search for your name, see it on their website and call them to handle your possible car accident case.

Before you jump the gun, you need to do a lot more research to find out if this firm is right for you. What information do they give you about the type of accident you were in? Do they offer you free books and free reports that explain how these cases work? Do they have educational videos that explains the process of what happens with a car accident lawsuit?

Or, do they make you call for an appointment before ever giving you any real useful information?

So the next time you see your name on a lawyer's website, ask yourself "Why is my name showing up there?" and ask yourself whether this is the type of law firm you want to represent you. Become educated and learn how to choose a New York personal injury attorney.
Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
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fred abramson 11/16/2010 09:08 AM
The practice you are shedding light on is internet ambulance chasing. I think that the bar should create an ethical rule banning the practice. It can be modeled on the current non~solicitation rule banning solicitation with accident victims. Doing nothing hurts lawyers likie yourself, who engage in creative marketing.
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Anthony Castelli 11/16/2010 10:23 AM
Great article . I know there is a difference of opinion on this and many lawyers would never do it. I would not do it.. I think its lawyer ambulance chasing on the web, but trying to come off as otherwise.
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Gerry Oginski 11/16/2010 10:34 AM
Fred, This is not internet ambulance-chasing. It's marketing. Nor is there anything inherently unethical about it. Tacky, yes. Distasteful, maybe. However, they're posting information online about various accidents. Is it educational information? Who is to say what is educational? I don't think it's informative, but they're not soliciting either. They're not sending out an email to that victim or his family saying "Hey, come to me because..." If someone is searching for information about their reported accident and they come across that lawyer's website, that's not solicitation. The person is actively making a decision to click on a lawyer's website to find out why their name pops up there. They are then free to explore the website and make an educated decision about whether this is the type of firm for them. I don't see this as solicitation at all. The reality is that lawyers don't need more rules to regulate what they can or can't say. Each attorney must comply with his or her state's own ethics rules. I appreciate your comments about my creative marketing. BTW, I don't engage in this type of marketing because I personally don't like it, but I know other attorneys who do.
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Philip L. Franckel, Esq. 02/08/2011 10:33 PM
This is definitely not even remotely similar to ambulance chasing. I see absolutely nothing wrong with it except that I doubt anyone has ever obtained a client with this practice. Someone would only Google their name to find news articles about their accident if it was a big accident. That would likely occur long after they've already retained a lawyer. I would never do it for the purpose of obtaining clients, but if I was inclined to engage in that type of advertising, I certainly would not spend any money on it. It's just dumb marketing, not ambulance chasing.
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