Barratry – Frequently Asked Questions
You may have heard jokes that refer to personal injury attorneys as “ambulance chasers”. However, the solicitation of clients by personal injury lawyers is a serious crime, known as “barratry”. These unethical attorneys prey on accident victims in order to recruit clients and boost their businesses.
At The Flowers Law Firm, we believe in operating with the highest level of professional ethics. We also help clients who have been victimized by unethical attorneys. Our Tyler, Texas law firm has become an active voice for those leading the fight against barratry.
Q1: How does barratry happen?
A1: An attorney engages in barratry when they attempt to solicit clients for representation without the potential client initiating the contact. For instance, if your loved one has been injured in an accident and an attorney attempts to gain your business through an unwelcomed or unsolicited phone call, messaging, or by sending someone to your house, that attorney has committed barratry.
Q2: Aren’t all commercials, advertisements, and websites for attorneys a form of barratry?
A2: No. The key to the barratry statute is that the offender must have initiated the contact directly with the potential client. Advertisements and websites are intended to inform the general viewing public about an attorney’s services in the hopes that a potential client will contact the firm. To be clear, the client must initiate the contact to the lawyer to engage in an ethical business relationship. If a lawyer or a the lawyer’s representative reaches out to the client first, this may be barratry. An experienced barratry attorney in Tyler, Texas, can show you the difference between paid advertisements and barratry.
Q3: Since my accident, I’ve been receiving phone calls from personal injury attorneys. What should I do?
A3: You should not accept unsolicited calls from attorneys seeking your business. You should find your own personal injury attorney who can help you with your case. You can also contact a barratry lawyer in Tyler, Texas, to have the firm that called you investigated for their unethical actions.
Q4: An attorney promised me payment up front to take my personal injury case. Should I take it?
A4: Any form of payment, especially after a serious accident, can be tempting. However, any payment or offer of payment from an attorney in exchange for your business can be considered illegal under the barratry statute. You can call a barratry attorney in Tyler, Texas, to find out what your options are if you have received such offers.
Q5: An attorney filed a personal injury lawsuit on my behalf without my knowledge or consent. Is that also barratry?
A5: According to the Texas Penal Code Section 38.12, any professional who “knowingly institutes a suit or claim that the person has not been authorized to pursue” has committed barratry. A barratry lawyer in Tyler, Texas, can help you pursue a civil claim against any attorney you did not authorize to represent your interests.
Q6: My friend recommended an attorney for my personal injury case, then told me that the attorney was giving him a “referral bonus” for recommending the firm. Is the attorney committing barratry?
A6: While referrals are a major source of business for many attorneys, the use of paid referrals to attract clients is also both illegal and unethical. Also, it is illegal for non-lawyers to accept a portion of a legal fee payment for case referrals. You should record the information about the attorney who solicited your business and contact the police or the State Bar of Texas to report their unethical behavior.
Q7: Are there criminal penalties for barratry?
A7: In addition to the civil liabilities in barratry cases, attorneys also face potential criminal charges. A first offense is classified as a misdemeanor, while subsequent offenses are considered third-degree felonies.
Q8: How can I trust a lawyer to pursue a case against another lawyer?
A8: Most members of the legal profession operate under strict codes of professional ethics. These members of the community value the trust of their clients and respect both their wishes and the law. Those who engage in unethical behavior give us all a bad name. A well-schooled barratry attorney in Tyler, Texas, can show you the difference our approach makes to helping our clients.
Q9: What kind of damages can I possibly receive from a barratry lawsuit?
A9: Barratry victims can potentially receive damages that include any payment the attorney earned while working the case, plus the attorney’s fees that person would have received. In 2011, Texas lawmakers also included a $10,000 penalty for attorneys found to have illegally solicited clients. You can find out what kinds of damages you can expect from your case when you call a barratry lawyer in Tyler, Texas, today.
Q10: How can a barratry attorney help me?
A10: A knowledgeable barratry attorney in Tyler, Texas, can help you with pursuing damages against the unethical attorney who tried to gain your trust, as well as your ongoing personal injury case.
If you or someone you love has been a victim of an unscrupulous attorney, let The Flowers Law Firm help. Contact us today at 903-965-2000. Our friendly staff will ask you a few questions about your case and connect you to an attorney who can help you with your barratry case.