A few years ago, we had a company named Towchures come to us with a unique idea – they wanted to sell lawyer advertising on promotional flyers left by tow truck companies to people who had been in a wreck. It allowed the tow truck companies to get free printing and allowed lawyers to get their name out there relatively cheaply- to someone in need of one. We declined.
Good idea or ambulance chasing? That was the question.
We looked up the company. The brand was trademarked in Florida by a enterprising guy named Mark Hale. It seemed like a good idea, generally. Maybe it wasn’t right for us, but certainly it was advertising which went directly to the target consumer.
Here was their sample idea-
Except it wasn’t legal. Florida law states:
877.02 Solicitation of legal services or retainers therefor; penalty.—
(1) It shall be unlawful for any person or her or his agent, employee or any person acting on her or his behalf, to solicit or procure through solicitation either directly or indirectly legal business, or to solicit or procure through solicitation a retainer, written or oral, or any agreement authorizing an attorney to perform or render legal service, or to make it a business to solicit or procure such business, retainers or agreements; provided, however, that nothing herein shall prohibit or be applicable to banks, trust companies, lawyer reference services, legal aid associations, lay collection agencies, railroad companies, insurance companies and agencies, and real estate companies and agencies, in the conduct of their lawful businesses, and in connection therewith and incidental thereto forwarding legal matters to attorneys at law when such forwarding is authorized by the customers or clients of said businesses and is done pursuant to the canons of legal ethics as pronounced by the Supreme Court of Florida.
(2) It shall be unlawful for any person in the employ of or in any capacity attached to any hospital, sanitarium, police department, wrecker service or garage, prison or court, for a person authorized to furnish bail bonds, investigators, photographers, insurance or public adjusters, or for a general or other contractor as defined in s. 489.105 or other business providing sinkhole remediation services, to communicate directly or indirectly with any attorney or person acting on said attorney’s behalf for the purpose of aiding, assisting, or abetting such attorney in the solicitation of legal business or the procurement through solicitation of a retainer, written or oral, or any agreement authorizing the attorney to perform or render legal services.
(3) Any person violating any provision of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
Wrecker services cannot aid, assist or abet a lawyer in offering legal services. Yet, you see it all the time. A local towing company frequently recommends a local law firm- a pretty good one -via its facebook page. It happens all over the State of Florida as lawyers and those who serve victims often come to know and recommend each other.
Yet, the law protects those who have been in a wreck to make a choice on their own- without influence. It doesn’t happen that way very often, but that is the law.
If any lawyer who solicited you illegally through a tow truck driver, or called you without your permission, that contract is null and void. You can likely terminate your contract and fire that lawyer at no cost to you. If you have already resolved the case, you may be due a FULL refund of attorneys fees.