How to Spot an Ambulance Chaser

car accidentIs ambulance chasing going on in your neighborhood? Is it illegal? What exactly is ambulance chasing? Do the cops make money? We’ll look at those questions as we expose just how easy it is to spot a chaser today. The first thing to note is, no one calls it ambulance chasing any more. It’s just chasing. And it’s very easy to see if it’s going on near you.

Before you go chasing a chaser, so to speak, you will need two things: A police scanner, and a car. That, and some time.

However, keep in mind, chasers are a strange lot, so you might not want to get too close as you peruse the streets looking for them- especially if you are carrying a video camera.

What is an ambulance chaser?

There are a few variations, but basically a chaser is anyone who listens to a police scanner, then rushes to any accident (or fire) to find customers for his business. His business could be anything from a body shop to a law office (these are the most common). It could also be an ambulance service, a board-up service (who would listen for the fire calls), or any other business that earns profits by listening to a police scanner or fire scanner, then soliciting the victims or people involved.

In the old days, before police scanners, they would actually follow an ambulance around until it arrived at an accident. Then they’d go to work “helping” the victims.

Is chasing illegal?

It could be, depending on what city or county you live in. Technically, it’s just soliciting. So it’s not a serious crime. However, what makes it serious, is the fact that oftentimes the chaser will pay the police a commission. That’s the dirty little secret. A typical car wreck might yield $50 to $100 a car, to the cop. They come to expect that from a body shop. Also, if there is an easy lawsuit the cop can usually make another $1000 by referring the victim to a “good” lawyer, whose representative happens to arrive at the accident.

Of course, not all cops allow chasers to rule the streets. They all know who the chasers are, whether they “do business” with them or not. They get used to seeing the same faces at accidents and they know. The good cops tell them to take a hike, and advise the victims to use their own judgement on calling a tow truck, a body shop, or a lawyer.

Chasing is perfectly legal and safe, and even recommended in some areas. I don’t personally have a problem with it. In fact, many times a chaser really does know who to call for everything. As long as a person is getting decent service, why not go for it? And who cares if cops make a little lunch money? Not me. They deserve it in my opinion. That, and even more.

Sometimes, especially in the country, there is a local “click”. This is where chasers don’t actually have to listen to a scanner, because the cops simply call them when they find some business for them. Like a broken-down car on the side of the road. Did you ever notice a cops always “helps” you along by calling a tow truck for you? Uh-huh.

How to spot a chaser.

OK, so you have your scanner set to your local police department. If you hooked your scanner up in your car, that’s even better. Listen intently until you hear a call for an auto accident. Then, get to the scene as fast as you can. If you get there early enough (most chaser will beat the cops and ambulance to the scene), you will see a suspicious person talking to the one who had a wreck. He’ll be the guy trying to “help”.

If you live in a major metropolitan area, I’d be willing to bet there are chasers around, and cops on the take.

Think you saw one, but didn’t get close enough to actually hear the conversation? Then go to the next accident, and the next. Keep going until you have frequented about ten accidents. By this time you should have seen some familiar faces. Did they talk to the police? Did they talk to each other? Probably.

Sometimes chasers drive tow trucks.

OK, let’s say you come upon an accident scene. As you look around and ask questions (you’ll likely want to know how it happened, and there will likely be some witnesses waiting around to give their statement to the police), you will very likely see a tow truck show up. Then, he will most likely ask, “need me?” Do you think that was a coincidence? Surely not. I’d be willing to bet he has a police scanner in his tow truck, and a fifty-dollar bill ready for the cop. All he needs is the owner of one of the crashed cars to sign his towing invoice, and he will simply bill the insurance company. How convenient. Isn’t that guy lucky that a tow truck happened along, and didn’t even ask for money?

Chasers know who their competition is.

Chasers who really work every day- going to multiple accidents daily- get to know the cops in that area, as well as the other chasers. As long as the chasers get along with each other, they’ll have a mutual respect for each other. In other words, the first one to talk to the victim gets the hit, and the second chaser to show up fades back into the crowd (or talks to another driver involved).

Warning: Don’t be too conspicuous with a video camera. You might not like the police officer’s response.

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