You may have heard the term ‘ambulance chaser’ before. It refers to doctors, chiropractors, and even lawyers that solicit car accident victims in their most vulnerable moments.
Barratry is the illegal and unethical act of taking advantage of someone who has just suffered a personal injury. This happens frequently to victims of car accidents.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a serious car accident or suffered some sort of personal injury, please beware the schemes unethical law firms conduct to take advantage of your claim and use your situation for their own personal gain.
At J. Gonzalez Injury Attorneys, we have developed a reputation built on honesty, integrity, and the desire to make a real difference in our community. We are dedicated to our clients and committed to delivering good faith litigation services to help you secure the compensation you need to begin healing.
Let our Rio Grande Valley attorneys teach you how to spot barratry so that you can avoid being manipulated. Even in situations where you have fallen victim to barratry, our attorneys can help you pursue a civil claim against the lawyer that illegally violated your trust.
What Is Barratry?
You have likely heard the term ‘ambulance chaser’. This refers to lawyers who participate in barratry, using ‘runners’ to approach victims shortly after they have been involved in an accident. Runners are commissioned by these dirty law firms to essentially trick an injured victim into signing over their case to the firm they work for.
After a personal injury or severe car accident, you are likely to be disoriented, confused, and vulnerable. Through the use of “runners”, law firms may coerce, influence, or even threaten you to pursue a claim through their law firm. They understand that you are not in the right mindstate to make such a important decision and will use this against you.
Ambulance chasers can be any individual or business affiliated with the law firm, including:
- Police officers
- Funeral home directors
- Tow truck drivers
- Body shop workers
These individuals may be promised commision if they are able to secure your claim for the unethical law firm.
In Texas, it is illegal to contact a victim of an accident by phone or person within 30 days of their accident. These restrictions should be respected by law firms because you may be focused on recovering from injuries and other issues caused by the accident.
Where Do Law Firms Get My Personal Info From?
You may not be aware of this but law firms are able to access your personal information rather easily.
Open record laws make your police record and crash reports available to the public. This is often how lawyers are able to secure information about you.
The Texas Department of Public Safety states that the “Public Information Act guarantees the public’s access to information maintained by a government agency.”
This means that attorneys and their “investigators” can obtain your home address and phone number through these means. That is why they may try to contact you in-person or by phone soon after your accident occurs.
If you or a loved one has just suffered a car wreck or other personal injury, you may begin to receive phone calls or be solicited by other means from these ambulance chasers. Right after an accident, you should take the time to recover while considering your legal options.
Knowing the signs and tactics of barratry can allow you to avoid manipulative law firms.
Take your time when securing legal support. You do not have to go with the first lawyer you speak with and should not feel coerced or forced to make a decision.
At J. Gonzalez Law Firm, we want to make sure that you are treated with the personalized care you deserve. You are more than just a client. If you have questions about how we can help you, please contact right now at (956) 630-6700.
Signs That You May Be a Victim of Barratry
Though law firms are suppose to fight for justice and help you recover from horrible situations, there are bad apples that will violate you and the law for the pursuit of profit.
The State Bar of Texas v. Kilpatrick, 874 S.W.2d 656, 659 (Tex. 94) defines barratry as the “solicitation of employment to prosecute or defend a claim with intent to obtain economic benefit.”
To avoid the schemes, there are some signs of barratry to be vigilant of:
1. You receive a phone call from someone that tells you that a family member told them to call you. Ask for the relative’s name and then double-check with said relative for confirmation. If they deny this event, this is definitely a sign of a ambulance chaser lying about where they gathered your personal contact information.
2. Someone approaches you while at the hospital or rehabilitation center. In some cases, a chaser will present themselves as an ‘investigator.’ If you are being questioned about details of your accident from someone other than a police officer, you may be talking to a runner or ambulance chaser.
3. You were coerced by a ‘professional’ to consult a specific lawyer. If a nurse, police officer, mechanic, or other point of contact suggests you to seek out a specific lawyer, then barratry may be at play.
4. Someone approached you at the funeral of a loved one. This exemplifies just how insensitive chasers and their employers can be. Not only is barratry illegal, but it is just not right to insist their services upon you at a funeral.
5. A lawyer or their representatives offer you special incentives or gifts of value for taking up their legal offer. Many times, a lawyer committing barratry will offer gifts, incentives, or bonuses for signing-up. These tactics are manipulative and a fair lawyer does not need to promise gifts.
What to Do if Barratry Happens To You?
The compassionate and experienced attorneys at J. Gonzalez Injury Attorneys know that after a car accident you may be dealing with a wide number of issues including physical pain, mental anguish, and emotional distress.
This is even more of a reason why you need the protection of a trustworthy and compassionate law firm that will have your back and help you pursue justice in situations of negligence and personal injury.
If a law firm does contact you by phone or in person, here are some tips for what to do to avoid their schemes and manipulation:
- Whether it is a lawyer or runner, get the solicitor’s contact information, record their statement, and ask which law firm they represent.
- Ask for a business card to refer back to.
- Document any details of this illegal solicitation, and have a loved one assist you in any back-and-forth communication during this sensitive time.
- Call an experienced attorney for a possible barratry claim.
- Don’t make any major decisions if you feel that you are not ready. In the moments after an accident, you may be disoriented or not ready to take action. It is okay to take some time.
If a lawyer files a claim on behalf of your accident without your knowledge or confirmation, you should consult the experienced barratry claim attorneys of J. Gonzalez Injury Attorneys to pursue a civil claim.
The law firm who makes a claim for you has no authorization to pursue legal action and must be reprimanded for their actions. These lawyers that disobey the law may also face criminal charges, as a first offense to barratry is classified as a misdemeanor.
How Can a Barratry Attorney Help Me?
Barratry is illegal, unethical, and unacceptable. This act takes advantage of victims of personal injuries who are already in a very vulnerable state.
Our attorneys know how serious your situation is and want to make sure that we act in the most ethical manner possible. Our goal is to successfully represent you; not take advantage of your pain and suffering. We can help you pursue damages against a negligent law firm that acted through barratry as well as assist you in pursuing a fair claim for your personal injury.
Don’t be fooled by an ambulance chaser. Work with a team of attorneys that has a great reputation and actually cares about your situation. When you’re in need of honest and experienced lawyers, the J. Gonzalez Injury Attorneys are here for you.