State lawmakers want to give accident victims a head start over ambulance chasers with a bill that would punish lawyers and other professionals who write to them within 30 days of an accident. The measure (A4430) was approved 6-0 by the Assembly Judiciary Committee and is expected to be taken up by the full Senate and Assembly on Monday.
Currently, lawyers, doctors, chiropractors and other health care workers are barred from soliciting victims in person, by phone or online for 30 days — although the bill’s sponsors say the law is largely unenforced, if at all.
The measure approved in committee today would expand that to include written solicitations and apply to any type of licensed professional.
“This is bringing in written communication, which can be quite onerous for the accident victims,” said Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-Burlington), a sponsor, who added that he would like to see the law enforced.
Some questioned the bill’s constitutionality on the ground that the state Supreme Court regulates how lawyers advertise.
Todd Sidor, a lobbyist for the State Bar Association, said state Supreme Court has jurisdiction over how lawyers practice, including advertising.
But the New Jersey Association for Justice, which represents trial lawyers, said it supported the measure.
In fact, three of the bill’s sponsors — State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R-Union) and Assemblyman Peter Barnes (D-Middlesex) — practice personal injury law.
Scutari said writing to victims immediately after a disaster or accident “gives the profession a bad name.”
He said the bill also targets insurance agents “trying to run in there and get a quick settlement.” However, it does not apply to people who have been contacted by victims, or to lawyers who already have a relationship with them. Read more in Star Ledger.