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Q. I was injured in an car crash recently. My insurance company contacted me right away and offered me a small settlement if I did not get a lawyer. I also received phone calls and letters from strangers offering me medical care and legal services. I am overwhelmed. What should I do? (May 2017)

A. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous insurance companies prey on accident victims and try to deprive people of their benefits before they are fully informed of their rights. I would advise against compromising your rights without consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Also sadly, particularly in the Detroit area, there is a problem with a number of shady outfits that illegally solicit people involved in auto accidents. These outfits aggressively steer accident victims to treat with certain notorious medical providers and to hire certain notorious lawyers who then overstate, and overbill for, a victim’s injuries. Unfortunately, seriously injured people sometimes get mixed up with these phony doctors and unethical lawyers because of their high pressured direct solicitations. It is not always easy later for judges or juries to sort out who is really seriously hurt when an accident victim winds up represented or under the care of these individuals. The most prominent organization of injury lawyers in this state, the Michigan Association for Justice, spearheaded an effort in 2014 to pass legislation that increased criminal penalties for those who directly solicit and harass accident victims right after an accident. Persons who do so can face jail time and up to $60,000 in fines. You do not want to be associated with these ambulance chasers, and if you receive such illegal solicitations, you can contact the prosecutor’s office. There are many experienced and qualified lawyers and doctors in this community to choose from who can assist you in meeting your legal and medical needs.

–Attorney Robert J. MacDonald