Recently, one of our injury clients showed us two direct mail solicitation letters she received from a ‘retired’ attorney at Nonprofit Injury Victim Advocates. (He actually had to forfeit his license for stealing tens of thousands of dollars from his client, so he’s not a ‘retired attorney.’) The letter violated several Bar Association guidelines for professional conduct and left her questioning how she was handling her personal injury claim. Nearly every ethical rule in the book was violated by these letters.
At Beck & Beck, we want you to feel confident that your rights are protected after a car accident. While an unsolicited letter from an attorney is common and isn’t a cause for concern, we’re going to shed light on certain scam letters from the Nonprofit Injury Victim Advocates.
You Need Time to Process Your Trauma
Being in a serious auto accident can turn your life upside down. You may be facing a long hospital stay or surgeries, months of physical therapy, and/or the possibility of a permanent disability. Your finances may be strained by your temporary inability to work—or you might be wondering if you’ll be able to return to work at all. You may also be experiencing negative mental health effects, such as nightmares, panic attacks, or symptoms of depression.
Ethical attorneys will not push you into making a decision about your legal representation before you are ready. In fact, Missouri rules of professional conduct require that attorneys wait a few weeks at least before sending any unsolicited direct mail to someone involved in an auto accident. If you receive mail before this time period, such as the letters our client received from Nonprofit Injury Victim Advocates, it is a clear cause for concern.
Learn How to Spot the Signs of a Scam
Aside from the requirement to wait multiple weeks before contacting accident victims, personal injury attorneys are also bound by the following ethical guidelines:
- The attorney should not use a trade name that implies a connection with a government agency or public or charitable legal services organization.
- Direct mail solicitations should make it clear how the attorney obtained the information that prompted the solicitation.
- They must include the word “ADVERTISEMENT” on the face of the envelope and at the top of the first page.
- The solicitation should feature the disclosure, “The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.”
- There should be a note that reads, “Disregard this solicitation if you have already engaged a lawyer in connection with the legal matter referred to in this solicitation.”
Any letter that does not follow these guidelines is likely to be a scam. Other indications you should be on the alert for include:
- A request to contact a generic email address, such as those associated with free Gmail accounts.
- A link to a website that is made using a free template, such as those provided with free WordPress accounts.
- Few or no details about an attorney’s background and qualifications.
- Requests for money or sensitive personal information.
The Missouri Bar Association can help you confirm that a lawyer is in good standing or file a complaint about a direct mail solicitation that you believe may be a scam, like the two letters our client received from Nonprofit Injury Victim Advocates.
Do You Need to Speak With an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney?
If you would like to learn more about how Beck & Beck can assist with your auto accident claim, please feel free to contact us online or call our office directly at 314.200-1229 for a free consultation.