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Texted by a Lawyer After an Accident? Here’s Why This Could be a Problem

text from a lawyer

For many people, texting has become the preferred method of communication for both personal and professional matters. But what if you are texted by a lawyer? 

All communications between lawyers and potential clients are subject to strict ethics guidelines. A text message from an attorney you’ve hired is one thing, but messages advertising for a law firm, especially right after you’re hurt in an accident, could be a red flag

If you have a personal injury case, it is important to be represented by someone who takes their duties seriously. When an attorney initiates contact, they could be breaking New Mexico ethics rules, and may even be breaking the law. 

Why Are They Contacting Me? Is This Text From a Law Firm Legit?

Getting a text about legal representation immediately after an accident is not necessarily a sign of a scam. It might be from an actual law firm. But if they are contacting you out of the blue, their actions are unethical. 

Except for a few special circumstances (we’ll discuss those later) it should be you, the client, who initiates contact with an attorney, not the other way around.

There is also the question of how the texter found out about the accident. Sometimes information is collected by monitoring police scanners or by paying insiders at the police station or the hospital about recent accidents. This unethical behavior is often called “ambulance chasing” and violates the privacy of victims. 

Texting and New Mexico’s Rules of Professional Conduct

Attorneys are held to the highest professional standards and are required to follow the ethics rules laid out by the American Bar Association. Each state adds its own interpretation to these rules. In New Mexico, texting falls under the Rules of Professional Conduct regarding solicitation, advertising, and in-person contact. 

Solicitation Rules

Solicitation is considered any communication by (or on behalf of) a lawyer, targeting someone who is known to need legal services. This prohibits them from contacting you if they find out you have been in an accident—unless you contact them first.

Advertising Rules

Attorneys are allowed to advertise to the general public. But advertising for a law firm via text is not allowed if that text goes to a person who has just been in an accident and hasn’t asked someone to contact them.

At the same time, in New Mexico, qualified lawyer referral services are allowed to advertise and generate leads for attorneys. They can not, however, directly contact someone known to need those services (such as an accident victim) or text them to recommend a specific attorney. Attorneys may also participate in legal service marketing groups, but they have the same restrictions. They can be included in “find a lawyer” lists, but can only advertise their general availability for legal services along with their areas of specialty.

In-Person Contact

Attorneys are prohibited from approaching victims in “person-to-person” communication such as meeting face-to-face or calling them on the phone without being invited to do so. Being texted by a lawyer in New Mexico, is a grey area, however. Texting is not considered in person since a text can be ignored. Still, texting the victim of a recent accident for the purpose of getting their case is still considered unethical. It involves contacting them for financial gain when they may be vulnerable and overwhelmed.

texting from an attorney
Image by rawin by rawintanpin’s images by Canva.com

When Is Being Texted By a Lawyer Acceptable?

It is perfectly fine for an attorney to text a victim when the victim has requested information or provided their contact information with a phone call or online. 

There are some additional instances when being texted by a lawyer is not a breach of ethics or professionalism, even if the victim has not initiated contact. New Mexico’s Rules of Professional Conduct allow communication when:

  • The person contacted is also an attorney
  • There is a prior personal or professional relationship with the caller
  • The person is a current or former client

Whether or not a lawyer has been given consent to call or text, or is allowed to do so under the ethics rules, their communications should always be respectful and non-coercive. Even if a victim has given permission to contact them, they should never be subject to high-pressure techniques or scare tactics to get their business.

Find a Personal Injury Attorney That Will Work For You

Ethical attorneys will never text you before you initiate communication first. If you are in an accident, it is important to choose an attorney, rather than accept the services of someone you have never heard of on the other end of a text or a phone call. 

Once you hire a lawyer to take your case, there should be a mutual agreement about how they will be in touch. If that includes texting, they should be clear about the expectations for both of you:

  • They should get your permission to use texting as a method of communication.
  • It should be clear whether texts are automated or from a member of the law firm.
  • For confidentiality and privacy purposes, guidelines should be put in place regarding what information is and is not appropriate to send via text.

In general, texting is best used for brief communications such as confirming appointments, answering quick questions, or providing an update on your case. It is not the best method for sending sensitive information or for long discussions.

If you are hurt in an accident and texted by a lawyer before you’ve even started to look for representation, there is no need to respond. Instead, contact Kane Personal Injury to discuss your case. It is important to find an attorney who will do their best to get you the compensation you deserve and follow the rules. We will be happy to discuss your case—but will never contact you without your permission.