Frequently Asked Questions About Barratry
In the event of a personal injury, you are entitled to seek legal assistance to recover financial compensation for the injuries and damages you have endured. However, this decision to seek legal action has to come from you and cannot be forced upon you from another party (or attorney).
It is illegal for an attorney to offer you their services shortly after you’ve been involved in a severe accident if you did not seek services.
The act of barratry is most commonly referred to as “ambulance chasing,” which is illegal and morally unjust.
The McAllen barratry lawyers of J.Gonzalez Injury Attorneys are here to go more in-depth into what barratry is, how it occurs, and what doesn’t qualify as barratry in Texas.
Q: What is barratry?
Barratry, or ambulance chasing, is the illegal solicitation done by an attorney, or someone representing an attorney, offering legal services to an individual who has suffered a personal injury. Not only is this action a violation of Texas law and State Bar regulations, but it is also considered to be a violation of the victim’s privacy.
Q: How does barratry occur?
In certain occasions, an unsolicited and uninvited third-party agency or person might access your information from a police report, police scan, or even medical professionals, and try to sell your personal information to personal injury attorneys in order for them to seek you out as a client.
Since these third-parties aren’t associated with either the medical field or the legal system, they do not follow any privacy regulations and make a profit out of selling your personal information.
Q: What does Texas law say about barratry?
According to the Texas Penal Code § 38.12, barratry in the state of Texas is referred to as the following:
- A person knowingly instituting an unauthorized suit or claim on behalf of a plaintiff without their knowledge;
- Someone who solicits employment, either in person or by telephone, for themselves or for another;
- A person who offers payment, gives, or advances to a prospective client, or anything of value to obtain employment as a professional;
- A person who pays, gives, or offers to pay or give a person money or anything of value to solicit employment;
- A party who pays, gives, or offers to pay or give a family member of a prospective client money or anything of value to solicit employment;
- Someone who accepts or agrees to accept money or anything of value to solicit employment.
An attorney, representative, or a third-party may be guilty of barratry, if they:
- Knowingly finance the commission of an offense under Subsection (a);
- Invest funds the person knows or believes are intended to further the commission of an offense under Subsection (a);
- Are a professional who knowingly accepts employment within the scope of the person’s license, registration, or certification that results from the solicitation of employment in violation of Subsection (a).
However, it is not considered barratry if and only:
- An attorney offers his services pro-bono, meaning they are not seeking any form of payment ;
- An attorney has a pre-existing relationship with the client, either professional or via family relation.
Q: Do advertisements count as barratry?
It is not considered barratry if it’s in the form of a paid advertisement, such as a television commercial, a radio spot, or digital marketing.
The purpose of these paid advertisements is to spread awareness of an attorney’s legal services to a wider, larger audience across their market.
Bear in mind, however, that if you’ve been contacted via social media or private message on behalf of an attorney or a representative without solicitation, you have a potential case against them as this may be considered a form of barratry.
Q: What should I do if I am continuously harassed by an attorney to accept their services?
In these types of circumstances, you should avoid answering any phone calls, text messages, or e-mails from an unsolicited attorney.
If you are constantly being contacted by an unsolicited attorney or paralegal, it is crucial to take action by doing the following:
- Take notes on who is contacting you and the law firm they’re representing.
- If solicited in-person or via phone, take note of the time, place, and setting of the contact. If in-person, save any business cards, contact information, or any other key evidence.
- Report these encounters to local law enforcement as well as the State Bar of Texas.
- Contact a barratry lawyer to seek a proper investigation and file a claim against the negligent party.
Q: What kinds of damages can I secure in a barratry lawsuit?
Under Texas law, barratry is considered a misdemeanor offense upon first conviction, but can turn into a third-degree felony if the problem keeps recurring. As of September 1, 2011, those who fall victim to barratry in Texas may be able to collect the following damages:
- $10,000 for every solicitation attempt they’ve experienced, either in-person or through the phone
- A collection of the actual damages that were infringed upon, including attorney’s fees
Mcallen Barratry Lawyer Seeking Justice for Your Privacy and Recovery!
While lawyers are supposed to help victims seek recovery for personal injury damages, there will always be untrustworthy individuals that will try to obtain an economic benefit from a vulnerable victim.
The McAllen barratry attorneys of J.Gonzalez Injury Attorneys do not tolerate these behaviors and will make sure to set an example of these malicious individuals.