Michigan Attorney Solicitation Rules
If you’ve been seriously injured because of someone else’s actions, you might have a case and need a personal injury lawyer to help you pursue a claim. The decision of who will represent you is yours. While attorneys can market and advertise their services, there are both ethical and legal rules around lawyer solicitation. Attorney Tom Sinas explained those rules during an appearance on one of his Fox 17 “Know the law” segments. The segment was done to help you understand what attorneys shouldn’t be doing when it comes to working with potential clients.
Ethical Rules on Michigan Attorney Solicitation
There is a general rule in the legal ethical code regarding lawyer solicitation. The rule states: “A lawyer shall not solicit professional employment from a person with whom the lawyer has no family or prior professional relationship when a significant motive for the lawyer’s doing so is the lawyer’s pecuniary gain.” There is an exception to the rule that covers sending truthful and non-deceptive advertising. Still, the basic concept is that lawyers cannot go out to solicit work from people they want to hire them. The idea behind the rule is that if someone needs an attorney, that person should be able to make the choice on whom they want to represent them without undue pressure. This is true for all lawyers in Michigan.
Michigan Law on Lawyer Solicitation and Car Crashes
In personal injury law, one of the most common case types attorneys handle is those involving auto accidents. For survivors of those crashes, Michigan has a special statute that deals with lawyer solicitation. The statute provides as follows:
- A person shall not intentionally contact any individual that the person knows has sustained a personal injury as a direct result of a motor vehicle accident, or an immediate family member of that individual, with a direct solicitation to provide a service until the expiration of 30 days after the date of that motor vehicle accident.
- Direct solicitation means 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 that is based upon the knowledge or belief that the individual has sustained a personal injury as a direct result of a motor vehicle accident and that is directed toward that individual or a family member.
What happens if someone violates that lawyer solicitation statute?
Regardless of whether it’s a lawyer or someone else, whoever violates the Michigan statute, even a first offense, is susceptible to punishment as a misdemeanor. It’s important for people to understand that they have a right to not be badgered by attorneys following a crash, and if someone is contacting you unprompted after your crash, it could be unethical and illegal.
What do you do if a lawyer is contacting you illegally after an accident?
- Don’t act upon their communication. If a lawyer is soliciting you and you didn’t initiate the contact, you don’t have to keep communicating or working with them.
- Decide if that’s the type of person you want to represent you if you need legal guidance. Chances are that this person is looking out first for their potential financial gain.
- Think about how you want to make a decision on choosing an attorney. Research your options, speak with people in the community, make sure you find the attorney who’s right for you, and don’t let someone else try and make this very important decision for you.
Michigan Attorney Solicitation and Auto No-Fault
Under the auto no-fault reform passed in 2019, insurance companies can collect an attorney fee against lawyers who violate the solicitation laws. Obviously, this is a warning for all attorneys to make sure they’re acting appropriately. But for victims involved in accidents, they may be subjected to questioning about how they obtained the lawyer representing them.
If you’ve been injured, and think you need legal representation, there isn’t a more important decision than selecting the attorney to handle the case. At Sinas Dramis Law Firm, we offer free consultation, because we know that you need to do your research, and we know how important it is to find the best fit for you and your family.