I-Team: Hounded after an accident? See what we found

CLEVELAND- An exclusive FOX 8 I-Team investigation is exposing the story behind the people and companies hounding drivers like you after accidents, even fender benders.

Many drivers get swamped with an avalanche of phone calls, letters, even DVDs, from medical groups and law firms after accidents. Now there’s a growing push to restrict that.

Take the case of Anthony Krystynak. He recently sat in his apartment on Cleveland’s west side when another driver hit his car parked on the street. His police report shows he wasn’t in the car, yet he still quickly got mail from law firms offering help in dealing with the accident including medical care. He even got mail from a law firm in Cincinnati.

Mary Gordon recently got hit in a minor crash while driving on Cleveland’s east side. Then, she says, the phone calls started. Gordon told the I-Team, “No one hurt, so why are you calling me to where the phone is just ringing off the hook? They just want to know if they can sue someone. It’s all about the money.”

One driver showed us she got hounded by one caller four times in 35 minutes.

So the I-Team went to see some of the firms reaching out to you by phone and mail.

We went to Spinal Injury and Pain Recovery on Cleveland’s west side. Before we even asked a question, a man came out to tell us, “No comment.”

We went to Massillon and walked into the office of Connect To Doctors. We saw people in cubicles making calls about accidents, but a manager told us she couldn’t answer questions without permission from her boss.

We also went to Akron, the headquarters for the Chester Law Group. Two of the drivers we met got a letter and DVD from this firm. We waited in the lobby, and we were told someone would be out to speak to us. Then, we were asked to leave.

The Chester Law Group ultimately e-mailed a statement saying, in part: “We reach out to those who have been involved in accidents - and make every effort to contact only those who likely have been injured - with information through direct mail to educate them about their options and rights…. This is a practice that is in compliance with Ohio Supreme Court's Rules of Professional Conduct….”

State Representative Catherine Ingram has proposed a new law to restrict companies from calling you after an accident. They track you down by pulling accident reports filed by police.

Rep. Ingram said, “There has to be a way that people don’t get chased down.”

Her proposal would allow you to check off on an accident report if you want to be contacted or not. If not, no one could call you for a month with “verbal solicitation for commercial purposes.” A violation would lead to a $100 fine.

Rep. Ingram added, “It’s almost like the do-not-call list. Giving you 30 days, you can’t call them. After the 30 days, you can call." She says the biggest issue with companies getting aggressive, “…you get to those folks who, all they really only want, is the money.”

We checked with state agencies. We found they either don’t regulate this or don’t specifically keep track of complaints about this.

Bottom line, drivers like Mary Gordon believe, “It should be stopped.”

A proposal to restrict these solicitations has also been introduced in the state senate.

Rep. Ingram believes she may have to re-introduce her bill to move it forward.