Even though the use of runners and cappers is illegal under California law, these unsavory individuals continue to prey on the fears of those who've suffered serious injuries due to another party's negligence.
Understanding Runners and Cappers
Runners and cappers are people with no legal background are paid a fee to chase down injury victims and sign them up as new clients for an attorney. Runners and Cappers typically show up at an accident scene offering to help the accident victims, then leading them to sign paperwork to be represented by some attorney or law firm. A lawyer or a Runner or Capper may show up uninvited to the hospital room of an injured person offering their services for the injury claim. These Runners and
Cappers will even find a way to show up at your home and promise you'll be able to win an excessively large settlement in a very short period of time if you sign up with them. Often, these Runners and Cappers learn about your accident and injuries by improperly obtaining confidential personal information from insiders at a police station, emergency room, or coroner's office. These acts are completely illegal and you should never agree to have someone who is willing to break the law to represent you in your injury claim, or your relative’s death claim.
The use of runners and cappers can be seen in many different types of personal injury claims. This includes:
- Car accident injuries
- Motorcycle accident injuries
- Bicycle or pedestrian accident injuries
- Slip and fall injuries
- Workers' compensation claims
Although many of the people recruited by Runners and Cappers do have legitimate injuries, these schemes can sometimes involve having healthy people requesting unnecessary medical procedures to build up their injury case. In this type of scheme, the "patients" may be offered cash payments or discounts for elective cosmetic procedures as compensation for their cooperation.
Performing unnecessary procedures on healthy patients is a form of insurance fraud that ultimately drives up premiums for everyone. It's also extremely dangerous, since it exposes people to the risks of surgical procedures without offering any medical benefit in return.
Schemes involving the use of Runners and Cappers can come in all sizes. Some are relatively small operations involving just a few individuals, while others are massive undertakings that involve multiple lawyers, doctors, accountants, and teams of recruiters working together to break the law.
Taking Advantage of Vulnerable Populations
Runners and Cappers often target people they believe lack the ability to recognize violated rights. For example, in June 2017, 10 attorneys and 6 other individuals were charged by the Orange County District Attorney's Office for their role in a massive workers' compensation referral scheme. These individuals allegedly distributed fliers and business cards throughout predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods promoting “free consultations” for employees who suffered workplace injuries. The number listed went to a call center in El Salvador, then sent recruiters to an ”injured” person's home to pressure him or her into signing legal papers with no input from a qualified attorney.
In addition to targeting immigrants with limited English skills, Runners, and Cappers attempt to take advantage of the intellectually disabled or the elderly. They appeal to the emotions of those who have been injured, pressuring them into settlements that fail to protect their rights and pocketing hefty profits for themselves at the expense of those legitimately injured people. In cases where healthy people feel pressured into having unnecessary procedures, they may be taking advantage of financial desperation to persuade these individuals to put themselves at risk.
If You've Been Scammed, Your Contract Is Void
The state of California has harsh penalties for both those who act as Runners or Cappers and the attorneys who utilize their services.
If an attorney has improperly secured your business through the use of Runners and Cappers or through deceit, your contract for legal services may be unenforceable. This means you can walk away without any repercussions.
If you've already paid legal fees to an attorney who used Runners and Cappers or deceit to solicit your business, you may be entitled to a full refund of all legal fees and costs the attorney received from you. Report the illegal activity to an ethical attorney to pursue the corrupt lawyer or contact the local authorities and the California State Bar Association.
How to Find an Ethical Attorney
If you've suffered an injury that you believe was caused by another party's negligence, the best way to find an ethical attorney is to do your own research. Instead of responding to unsolicited phone calls, home or hospital visits, fliers or solicitation letters. Visit the websites of attorneys in your community to learn about their practice areas. Then, schedule a consultation to discuss your options for filing a claim. Do not sign any legal documents until you feel confident that an attorney can provide the assistance you need and will do so ethically.
Inland Empire Law Group's experienced attorneys serve residents of Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, Victorville, Fontana, and the surrounding areas. We never use Runner or Cappers and also do our best to uphold ethical standards. Call (888) 694-3529 today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.