If you have been contacted about a personal injury case and don’t know who made the call, it’s essential to report the incident. You can file a barratry complaint with the Texas State Bar.
What is Barratry?
Barratry is the unauthorized practice of law by a non-attorney or a non-lawyer. Barratry is illegal in Texas and can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances of your case. The penalties for Barratry include fines up to $100,000.00 and up to one year in jail per count.
What is the Purpose of Barratry Laws?
Barratry laws prevent attorneys from soliciting clients, contacting potential clients, and contacting potential clients without their knowledge or permission. Barratry laws protect the general public from being approached by unscrupulous attorneys attempting to solicit them for legal services, even if they do not need help with their legal issues.
Barratry laws vary by state, but in Texas, if you are involved as a party in a lawsuit and have never been contacted by an attorney (or anyone acting on behalf of an attorney), you should contact your attorney immediately. If someone has contacted you claiming that they work for an attorney or law firm, then this could constitute illegal Barratry and may result in sanctions against the person contacting you
What is illegal Barratry in Texas?
In Texas, Barratry is the practice of soliciting clients for attorneys and other professionals. It’s illegal in this state to pay someone to solicit clients for you or your business.
If you’re approached by someone who offers to help you sue another party, or if they tell you that they can get the money from a lawsuit if you hire them first, then it might be best for you to find an attorney on your own rather than risk breaking the law by hiring one of these people.
What should I do if I receive a call from someone claiming to work for an attorney?
If you receive a call from someone claiming to work for an attorney, or if you are contacted by any other individual or entity claiming to represent an attorney, you should contact us immediately. In addition to contacting us, you should also report it to the Texas Rangers or call at Law Office of Chris Sanchez p.c at (956) 686-4357
What about bill collectors, police, or process servers?
If you are contacted by a bill collector, police, or process server, and they say they are working for an attorney, we recommend contacting the Texas Rangers. If an attorney reaches you and says they are working with a law firm, we recommend that you get the Texas Rangers as well.
What if a family member or friend does not have my permission to give out my contact information?
Suppose you’ve been contacted by someone claiming to work for an attorney after an injury. Likely, that this person is not working for an attorney. This person could be a friend or family member who has your contact information but does not have your permission to use it.
- Not all family members know the laws regarding Barratry in Texas, making them think they’re doing the right thing when breaking the law. Even if they know about these laws, they might not realize their actions can get them in trouble with a lawyer or judge on your behalf!
- Family members may have your contact information because they can access it through other avenues—like social media accounts like Facebook.
What if my attorney gives my contact information to someone else and I don’t permit them?
If you are approached by someone who says their attorney has referred them to speak with you, it’s important to remember that the person contacting you is not your attorney and does not work for the firm. Your attorney may have given this person your contact information without asking if it was okay with you first. This violates Barratry laws in Texas and could result in criminal charges against your lawyer, so don’t assume everything is kosher just because someone says they’re working with your lawyer!
Suppose you’ve been contacted by someone claiming to be an associate or paralegal at an injury law firm after an accident and ask whether they’re representing anyone else involved in the crash. In that case, they will likely say no (unless they are). If they say yes or seem evasive about answering this question directly, run away as fast as possible! Often attorneys send out “runners” who call people up after being given lists of potential clients; these runners do not represent plaintiffs’ attorneys and are often unlicensed or unregistered individuals.
How can an attorney get in trouble for allowing unauthorized solicitors to contact potential clients?
You can also be sued for Barratry. If you allow someone to solicit clients for you, and the client becomes injured because of that contact, you could be liable for what happened. If a person is injured because they trusted you to protect them from this type of fraud, that trust has been violated tremendously—and it’s not going to sit well with any judge or jury who hears about it!
Not only can an attorney get into trouble for allowing unauthorized solicitors to contact potential clients, but they also can be sued by those same potential clients as well as their families if they’re injured by someone who was acting on behalf of said lawyer’s office (which is where most barratry cases originate). This means that an office assistant who makes an error like forwarding confidential information could open up her employer and herself to lawsuits brought under several different legal theories: negligence, fraud; breach of fiduciary duty; breach of contract.
An attorney is liable for Barratry even if they did not know the person contacting you was not authorized.
If you are contacted by someone who claims to be working for an attorney, be aware that you may be the victim of Barratry. Even if an attorney does not employ the person, if they approached you with the intent to solicit your case, there is a good chance that this counts as Barratry. The law states that anyone who demands business for another in return for compensation without being authorized to do so by said other commits a misdemeanor and can face up to 180 days in jail or a $10,000.00 fine.
Contacting an injured party after they have contacted a lawyer is also considered Barratry. It is punishable under Section 31 of the Texas Penal Code: “A person commits an offense if he acts as a runner, agent or intermediary in soliciting clients.”
Contact the Texas rangers and file a report or call the Law Office of Chris Sanchez P.C.
The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating Barratry and other law violations
Please call our office at (956) 686-4357 immediately if you have been contacted by someone claiming they represent an attorney concerning your case or to pressure you into paying for legal services without representation. We are ready to help!
We hope this blog has given you a better understanding of Barratry and how it can affect you. If you have questions or need additional information, please call the Law Office of Chris Sanchez P.C. at (956) 686-4357 to speak with one of our attorneys today!