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Ambulance chasing is a criminal act

Ambulance chasing is a criminal act

Dear PAO,
My husband was a seafarer who was permanently disabled due to an accident while he was on duty. My husband and I inquired as to what steps to take in filing a complaint against my husband’s employer. While in the process of inquiring, we were approached by a man who was offering free legal services in filing the labor complaint in exchange for a percentage or fee in case we win the labor case. I just want to know if the man’s action is proper.

Dear Balang,
Section I, Rule II of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10706, otherwise known as the “Seafarers Protection Act,” provides the elements of the offense of ambulance chasing, viz:

“Section 1. Ambulance Chasing. — The offense of ambulance chasing shall be committed when the following elements concur:

“a) That a person or his agent, solicits from seafarer or his heirs, the pursuit arising from accident the employer of the seafarer;

“b) That such claims is for the purpose of recovery of monetary award or benefits arising from accident, illness or death, including legal interest; and

“c) That the pursuit of the claim is in exchange of an amount or fee which shall be retained or deducted from the monetary award or benefit granted to or awarded to the seafarers or their heirs.”

Clearly, the offense of ambulance chasing involves the act of soliciting from the seafarer or his/her heirs in pursuing monetary claim against the employer of the seafarer in exchange for money or a fee in case an award is granted to the seafarer. In your husband’s situation, the person who offered free legal assistance can be deemed to have committed the act of ambulance chasing, considering that he approached you and offered his legal services in exchange for a percentage in case your husband receives any monetary award on his case.

Please be informed that the offense of ambulance chasing is prohibited and any person who commits such act is criminally and civilly liable. (Section 1 and 2, Rule V, IRR of Republic Act 10706).

This opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or further elaborated. We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.