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September 01, 2006

First Amendment Victory in Ohio -- Michael

God bless the Ohio Supreme Court for standing tall in defense of freedom of speech. In a ruling today, the OSC bravely defended the right of personal injury lawyers to solicit clients immediately after an accident.

Friday, September 01, 2006

James Nash


The Ohio Supreme Court has scrapped a proposed ban on "ambulance chaser" attorneys who sign up clients immediately after an accident.

Lawyers and accident victims swamped the court with more than 600 letters opposing the ban, many noting that insurance companies can and do contact accident victims to pressure them to settle claims. Others said that many victims need speedy legal assistance and disputed the notion that solicitations from lawyers tarnish the profession.

I say again, God bless these noble jurists for listening to the sweet reason of their brethren of the bar.

Of course, the OSC is not going to say who voted which way, but that's just a technical legal thingamajig:

Court spokesman Chris Davey said the court will not announce which justices voted for and against the ban, because it is a rule of the court rather than a case.

Seventeen states prohibit lawyers from soliciting accident victims as clients 30 to 45 days after the incident, according to the American Bar Association.

Not everyone was pleased:

Supporters of an Ohio ban say it’s unseemly for lawyers to prey on people in vulnerable conditions β€” some still hospitalized β€” and that it contributes to negative perceptions of the profession.

What negative perceptions could they possibly be talking about?

"People get in accidents and they get a bunch of letters from attorneys about becoming their clients," said Columbus lawyer Jason Blue, whose firm specializes in injury and malpractice cases. "I think it confuses and irritates them. Lawyers should at least wait for the victims to get back from the hospital."

But Jason, if you wait that long they might be off drugs. Sheesh.

There actually is a credible public interest argument against such a rule. The proposed ban on lawyer solicitations could give insurance companies an unfair advantage.

Attorney General Jim Petro also objected to the proposed ban, writing that it "could potentially have negative consequences for Ohio consumers." A Petro deputy elaborated that a do-not-solicit rule would tilt the playing field in favor of insurance companies, which would take advantage of the rule to pressure victims to settle claims within 30 days of an accident.

The Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers, on the other hand, supported the rule, saying it would hold lawyers to a "higher standard of ethical integrity."

The Columbus Dispatch - Ambulance Chaser Ban Fails

Feel free to post your favorite lawyer joke in the thread below.

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