Few things are as stressful as having to deal with a loved one (or yourself) being in hospital in need of medical care. But in most cases, we expect treatment and the various medical procedures to go down without a hitch. So, when things do go awry, the potential of lodging a medical malpractice/negligence claim against the healthcare facility or provider becomes all too real. And, as with most matters, there are usually malicious individuals looking to pounce.
Touting – an unethical and, at times, illegal practice within the legal fraternity whereby someone tries to solicit work from a potential client. This is especially prevalent in relation to personal injury and Road Accident Fund (RAF) claims. Touts use a victim’s confusion, emotional state and/or desperation to pressure them into accepting their services.
IDENTIFYING A TOUT
Touts often hang around at hospitals, but can also be found outside of health facilities.
- Touts always approach a potential client in person to sell a service – in this instance, providing legal assistance in submitting a malpractice claim.
- They promise the victim large amounts of money.
- Some touts employ others to facilitate an introduction between the victim and the touting lawyer.
- In some instances, a tout will make direct contact telephonically or via email to offer their services to an individual who already has legal representation.
IF A TOUT APPROACHES YOU
- Firmly tell them that you are not interested and walk away.
- If the tout refuses to leave you alone, tell them that you know that what they are doing is unethical and that you will report them to the Law Society of SA as well as hospital management.
- Never share any personal or medical information with anyone unless they are your official legal representative.
- Even if you know you have a valid personal injury claim, it’s important that you never sign any documents without fully understanding the contents.
REPORTING A TOUT
Should you cross paths with a tout, you can report them to the Law Society of SA (LSSA).
Find the complaints form for your province here. Alternatively, you can phone your local LSSA office at the numbers listed below.
Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West
ProcForum Building, 123 Paul Kruger Street, Pretoria
Telephone: (012) 338 5800
Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape
29th Floor, ABSA Centre, 2 Riebeek Street, Cape Town;
Telephone: (021) 443 6700
200 Hoosen Haffejee Str, Pietermaritzburg
Telephone: (033) 345 1304
139 Zastron Street, Bloemfontein
Telephone: (051) 447 3237
Sources: Law Society of SA