Contacted by a Michigan personal injury law firm less than 30 days after your accident? A new law makes this a crime in Michigan and our firm can help you get in contact with the proper authorities if you are a victim. Violators can be fined up to $30,000 for a first offense and up to $60,000 for a second or subsequent offense.
History of Cappers and Runners
For many years, Michigan personal injury law firms have been monitoring serious accidents all across the State of Michigan, obtaining the police reports and then contacting the accident victim, their families, or anyone else picking up their mail. Many times firms would have special fee agreements made up for these cases and try to get to the victim before anyone else. Even though the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit direct solicitation generally, they did allow for letters to people who might be in need of specific services as long as it was in writing and not personal contact.
This practice has had a huge impact on accident victims being inundated with letters and contacts from Michigan personal injury law firms. It has also been an area of controversy in the domestic relations practice areas where attorneys are sending letters after a Complaint for Divorce has been filed, causing problems and even some domestic violence as a result. Our firm has never engaged in this practice and have advocated for many years to limit this all too common practice.
This conduct is no longer allowed as a result of Public Act 219 that went into effect on January 1, 2014. The Governor signed a bill that states a person “shall not intentionally contact any individual that the person knows has sustained a personal injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident, or an immediate family member of the individual, with a direct solicitation to provide a service until the expiration of 30 days after the date of that motor vehicle accident.”
What this Means in English
This new law means that if you or an immediate family member have suffered ANY physical or mental injury, including wrongful death, a law firm or any person in the state of Michigan, cannot contact you with an offer to provide services to you. The bill defines this contact as a “verbal or written solicitation or offer, including by electronic means, made to the injured individual or a family member seeking to provide a service for a fee or other remuneration”.
Definition of Immediate Family Member
The new law makes it a crime for any person to contact the victim of a personal injury or an immediate family member of that individual. This has been defined as the individual’s spouse, parent, child or sibling. Therefore, you need to make sure that no one been contacted within the first 30 days by any person, unless it falls into one of the few exceptions carved out by the Michigan Legislature.
Exceptions to the Law
The only way this new law does NOT apply is if the “individual or his or her immediate family member has requested the contact from that person”. This would apply to a situation where an individual or immediate family member has called a Michigan personal injury law firm or filled out a contact form requesting more information about their services. This can most certainly still be done within the first 30 days after an accident.
Another exception is allowed for employees or agents of insurance companies calling to adjust the claim or find out the extent of the injury and the damages that may need compensation under their insurance policy.
Michigan has made this a misdemeanor crime and any person who violates this law can be punished by a fine of not more than $30,000.00 and by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine not more than $60,000.00 if it is a second or subsequent offense. The law is so new that we do not have any way to gauge what the actual punishments or fines will be if pursued, but anyone who feels they have been victimized by a personal injury law firm or any other person within 30 days of the accident or injury should contact our firm immediately to protect their rights.
Call Ford & Murphy P.C. today at (269)342-9900 for a FREE Michigan Personal Injury consultation.