By: Scott Hobson
The New York State Senate has passed legislation, sponsored by Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R, Rockville Centre), which increases penalties for hiring or acting as a “runner” to procure clients, patients, or customers. A runner is defined as a person hired by a professional, typically a lawyer or doctor, to solicit services.
Typically, runners approach injured victims immediately following an accident and attempt to persuade them to take legal action or seek medical services. In New York, soliciting a client or patient within 30 days of an accident – “ambulance chasing” – is illegal. Attorneys who violate this law may be subject to censure or suspension. However, the practice of using runners remains far too common, especially in New York City. This legislation will reduce the use of runners by imposing serious criminal penalties for violations.
The practice of using runners, strongly condemned by the State Bar Association and professional organizations across the state, has impacts beyond the clear ethical issues. Most legal or medical fraud schemes require a large volume of clients that are recruited using runners. This raises the cost of medical insurance, which impacts every New Yorker.
LRANY applauds the Senate for taking leadership on this important issue, and urges the Assembly to follow suit.