New York Insurance Law § 5102, along with the corresponding no-fault regulations, mandates that automobile insurance carriers must offer a minimum coverage of $50,000 for “first-party benefits” to cover “basic economic loss” resulting from personal injury arising from motor vehicle use. This eliminates the need for claimants to file personal injury lawsuits, as prompt payment for medical treatment is provided. Claimants can assign their right to reimbursement to other parties, including healthcare providers.
The high volume of claims that must be processed within strict timeframes in the no-fault industry makes it susceptible to healthcare provider fraud. Often, healthcare providers receive assistance from individuals known as “runners,” who procure patients for them.
A new bill introduced in the New York State Assembly seeks to hold accident scene runners accountable by treating them as criminal defendants for unlawfully procuring clients, patients, and customers. The proposed bill includes three new sections: N.Y. Penal Law §§ 176.85, 176.90, and 176.95, as well as an amendment of §176.00 that defines “runner” and “provider.”
According to the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), reports of no-fault fraud constituted 93% of all fraud reports received in 2022 and 90% of all healthcare fraud reports received since 2018. In response, the DFS initiated investigations in 2019 to uncover information about runners’ involvement in staged accidents and doctors engaging in no-fault fraud through unnecessary medical treatments.
Staged accidents commonly involve intentional collisions between vehicles or one driver causing an accident with an unsuspecting driver. Another scenario, known as “jump-ins,” occurs when individuals not involved in the accident are added to the accident report.
Runners are most prevalent in staged and intentional accidents. After an accident, runners approach individuals, providing information about medical clinics and law firms in exchange for kickbacks. They also coach accident victims to exaggerate their injuries. Runners receive financial kickbacks from clinic controllers and doctors when solicited patients undergo medically unnecessary treatments at no-fault clinics.
Subsequently, personal injury lawyers file lawsuits, leading insurance carriers to incur millions in unnecessary medical expenses, lost wages, and litigation defense costs—all orchestrated by runners aiming to defraud insurance carriers.
If enacted, the proposed bill would allow runners and providers to be charged for unlawfully procuring clients, patients, or customers in the third, second, or first degree, depending on the frequency of occurrences and pecuniary benefits received.
Under the proposed bill, acting as a runner more than once a year would result in a charge of third-degree unlawful procurement, a Class A misdemeanor. Providers who employ runners more than once a year and offer pecuniary benefits would also face charges under this section.
A charge of second-degree unlawful procurement, a Class E felony, would apply to runners who knowingly act as runners on five or more occasions within a 12-month period or receive a total pecuniary benefit of $5,000. Providers who employ such runners would face the same penalty.
First-degree unlawful procurement, a Class D felony, would be applicable to runners who knowingly act as runners on more than ten occasions within a 12-month period or receive an aggregate pecuniary benefit of $20,000. Similarly, providers who knowingly employ runners for ten or more occasions over a 12-month period or offer pecuniary benefits exceeding $20,000 would face a Class D felony.
Enacting Assembly Bill 855 is expected to act as a deterrent against runners and providers engaging in insurance fraud schemes. It may also encourage insurance carriers to conduct investigations, which resulted in $518 million in savings and $48 million in recovered funds in 2021, according to the report “Investigating and Combating Health Insurance Fraud” by the DFS.
Reasons to Avoid Law Firms that Employ “Runners” for Client Solicitation
- Unethical Practices: Law firms that resort to using “runners” for client solicitation engages in unethical practices. These runners are individuals who actively seek out potential clients on behalf of the law firm, often through questionable means. Such practices can undermine the integrity and professionalism of the legal profession.
- Violation of Legal and Ethical Standards: Employing runners to solicit clients is a violation of legal and ethical standards established by professional legal organizations. It demonstrates a disregard for the principles of fair and honest representation, potentially compromising the attorney-client relationship.
- Questionable Quality of Services: Law firms that rely on runners for client solicitation may prioritize quantity over quality. The primary goal is attracting as many clients as possible rather than providing personalized attention and dedicated legal services tailored to the specific needs of each client.
- Lack of Transparency: When a law firm uses runners to solicit clients, there is a lack of transparency regarding how potential clients are approached and the motivations behind it. This lack of transparency can raise concerns about the firm’s commitment to open and honest communication with its clients.
- Potential Legal Consequences: Engaging in client solicitation through runners may have legal repercussions. It is important to choose a law firm that operates within the boundaries of the law and adheres to professional standards, minimizing the risk of legal complications that could negatively impact your case.
- Reputation and Credibility: Law firms that employ runners for client solicitation may suffer reputational damage. Their association with unethical practices can harm their credibility and trustworthiness within the legal community and among potential clients.
- Unwanted Solicitation: If you are approached by a runner representing a law firm, it may indicate that the firm does not respect your privacy or adhere to ethical guidelines. Choosing a law firm that avoids the use of runners ensures that you are not subjected to unwanted solicitation tactics.
- Focus on Results rather than Legal Ethics: Law firms that rely on runners may prioritize financial gain over ethical considerations. This focus on results can compromise the firm’s commitment to upholding legal ethics and may raise concerns about their dedication to pursuing justice in an ethical and responsible manner.
When seeking legal representation, it is crucial to choose a law firm that operates with integrity, upholds legal and ethical standards, and prioritizes the best interests of its clients. Avoiding law firms that employ runners for client solicitation helps ensure that you retain legal representation that values professionalism, transparency, and ethical conduct.
Parker Waichman LLP: An Ethical Law Firm Committed to Client Advocacy
Parker Waichman LLP stands out as an ethical law firm that upholds high standards of professionalism and integrity in its legal practice. Here’s why Parker Waichman LLP does not engage in “running” for injury cases:
- Transparent Client Acquisition: Parker Waichman LLP is committed to transparency in its client acquisition process. The firm does not rely on “runners” or engage in unethical practices to solicit clients. Instead, they prioritize building relationships based on trust, providing accurate information, and allowing potential clients to make informed decisions without any undue influence.
- Adherence to Legal and Ethical Standards: The firm strictly adheres to legal and ethical standards set forth by professional legal organizations. Parker Waichman LLP operates within the boundaries of the law, ensuring that their legal practice aligns with the ethical guidelines established by the legal community.
- Client-Centered Approach: Parker Waichman LLP places a strong emphasis on client advocacy. Their primary focus is on providing personalized attention and dedicated legal services tailored to the unique needs of each client. The firm takes the time to understand their clients’ circumstances, empathize with their challenges, and fight for their rights.
- Commitment to Professionalism: Professionalism is a core value at Parker Waichman LLP. The firm maintains a team of experienced attorneys and legal professionals who demonstrate professionalism in their interactions with clients, opposing parties, and the legal community at large. They strive to uphold the highest standards of conduct throughout the legal process.
- Proven Track Record: Parker Waichman LLP has a reputation for achieving successful outcomes for their clients through diligent and ethical legal representation. Their track record of success speaks to their commitment to ethical practices and their ability to navigate complex legal matters while maintaining the highest standards of integrity.
- Positive Client Feedback: The firm has received positive feedback from clients who appreciate their ethical approach, professionalism, and dedication to their cases. Client testimonials and reviews often highlight the firm’s integrity, trustworthiness, and the positive experiences clients have had while working with their attorneys.
By choosing Parker Waichman LLP, clients can rest assured that they are working with an ethical law firm that prioritizes their best interests, operates with transparency, and upholds legal and ethical standards. The firm’s commitment to integrity and client advocacy sets them apart as a trusted and ethical choice for legal representation in injury cases.
CONTACT PARKER WAICHMAN LLP FOR A FREE CASE REVIEW
Were you or a loved one harmed in an accident? Parker Waichman LLP helps families recover monetary compensation for harm caused by negligence. For your free consultation, contact our law firm today by using our live chat or calling 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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