Why I Didn’t Send a Postcard

Sirens. Ambulance. Hospital. Postcard advertising injury-related services. One of these is not like the other.

In the past couple of weeks, I have followed a debate among personal injury attorneys throughout Washington who would like to address what the majority, including Anderson Law, considers to be inappropriate marketing: direct solicitation of those who have recently been injured. Attorney Karen Koehler of Seattle has given us a glimpse at what some of her clients have gone through as a result of this direct marketing tactic and has suggested that we follow a code of conduct restricting such marketing.

This could be a positive development. However, in the injury world, attorneys aren’t the only direct marketers. Recently, several medical providers in Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland have subscribed to a marketing service that buys collision reports, calls the recently injured, then encourages them to receive medical treatment. The service then suggests one of their subscribers.

I have had several clients who have received such phone calls. And none of them have appreciated it. Especially the ones where the marketing service says something like this: “Hello, this is your insurance company. We’re sorry you were in a car accident, but we really think you should get treatment for your injuries. We recommend you see Doctor Soandso, who is a specialist in car accidents.” I’m not sure if they were more bothered by the fact that it wasn’t their insurance company on the other line, or the fact that a collision report was being used for commercial purposes. Either way, it just didn’t seem right.

I understand, people are running their businesses. I understand, they are marketing an important service. But if we don’t identify what kind of marketing is or isn’t acceptable, it seems that each of us will become nothing more than street vendors selling Chiclets or whatever we can scrounge up.

This reminds me of the time when I could have directly solicited a client. A few years ago I was meeting with a client in my office when I heard a loud boom, like someone had dropped a barrel of water from the roof onto the ground. My client and I walked outside and saw that there had been a serious t-bone collision on Clearwater Avenue. Airbags had deployed, cars had spun around, and the collision had spilled into our parking lot, damaging several parked cars. If my client had left my office just a minute earlier, he would have been crushed as he was getting into his car. We called 911, made sure everyone was taken care of, and returned to our office thankful that there were no life-threatening injuries. The idea of giving them my card, or even mailing them a postcard down the road, seems about as tasteful as trying to sell them a box of Chiclets… discounted for the injured, of course.

About the author: Brian Anderson

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