You may recall the scene in "Rainmaker" where Danny DeVito shows Matt Damon how to troll the hospital for clients. They walk into one of the hospital rooms where an unsuspecting car accident victim trapped in a full body cast is lying in traction. The nurse leaves the room and DeVito asks the guy if he has an attorney and then slips a business card between the guy's fingers. In most states, it is illegal for a personal injury lawyer to solicit clients like this.
Many states have strong penalties for personal injury lawyers who solicit clients like DeVito's character did, including disbarment. In fact, some states have banned personal injury lawyers from altogether advertising on television, billboards and other traditional advertising venues. The reason for the ban is simple. States do not want to encourage frivilous litigation.
But what about our car accident victim above? Suppose his insurance company shows up at the hospital before he has an attorney. In most states, this would not be illegal. Suppose they stick an ink pen between his fingers instead of a business card. Suppose they show him a legal form known as a settlement agreement and offer him $50,000 to sign the agreement. Suppose he signs the agreement without consulting a personal injury lawyer first (insurance companies know the mental fatigue and impairment of a person stuck in a full body cast while lying in traction). Suppose the victim was not the cause of his injuries and that it will cost him $500,000 in medical expenses to recover and, even then, he will never be completely whole. Suppose the only way the victim could meet an attorney is the one taken by DeVito's character.
A Word Of Advice
Do not sign anything until you have consulted a personal injury lawyer. Most attorneys will give you a free initial consultation. Your insurance company may try to disuade you from talking to an attorney but this is just a tactic to limit the amount of their exposure. Do not fall for it.
What Is A Personal Injury
The victim above would fall under the category of personal injury law; that is, a legal claim based on an injury you may have received that was caused by another person's negligence. A personal injury may also include an invasion of personal rights, including mental suffering and false imprisonment.