In Texas, when a chiropractor, lawyer or one of their representatives knocks on your door or calls you after an auto accident, that caller has committed the crime of Barratry.
Barratry is a Texas Law that was created to safeguard the public from unscrupulous chiropractors and lawyers. Unfortunately, a certain handful of lawyers and chiropractors refuse to follow the law and as a result the crime of Barratry continues to flourish in Texas.
The crime of Barratry is defined in Chapter 38.12 of the Texas Penal Code. And while only a small group of Texas chiropractors and lawyers are calling or knocking on the doors of accident victims – the practice is out of control in San Antonio and along the border towns of Laredo, McAllen, Brownsville and El Paso.
Most accident victims simply do not understand that the lawyers and chiropractors that are knocking on doors or calling victims are breaking a law that could put the caller, lawyer or chiropractor in jail for a long time.
Accident victims, who need assistance, should consider hiring a lawyer from an advertisement or a referral from a friend or a referral from a trusted neighbor or relative.
Many individuals are simply unaware that the conduct of certain chiropractors, lawyers and their representatives is illegal when a stranger knocks on the victim’s door or calls after an accident.
The behind the scenes mechanisms of how accident victims are being improperly contacted has recently been exposed. All too often, perfect strangers are simply walking right up to accident victim’s doors and convincing them to hire a certain chiropractor or lawyer. Accident victims need to be careful.
Sometimes the person that knocks on the doors or calls will tell the victims a false story as to why they are calling and who they work for or what they are entitled to. In the last ten years, strangers have posed as representatives of Catholic Charities, Agents of the Mexican Consulate, fake lawyers, fake doctors, fake police officers, fake investigators and fake priests.
Some of the case runners use false identities then work to convince the victims or their families to hire a certain lawyer. In the last three years two individuals that resided in South Texas have been at the center of an on-going fire storm. One of alleged runners was an individual from Corpus Christi who had improperly solicited hundreds of individuals from Texas and Mexico. Another individual out of the McAllen Area was also exposed who had improperly solicited thousands of victims from Texas, Mexico and South and Central America.
Accident victims, from both sides of the border are being contacted after accidents in Laredo, Nueva Laredo and other South Texas Cities. The most common form of solicitation involves chiropractors or their agents who simply knock on the doors or call victims. It is recommended that if a stranger knocks on your door or calls you, tell them to leave you alone and/or get off your property.
Some chiropractors and attorneys contend that newly passed Texas Laws, prohibiting chiropractors from calling victims is unconstitutional. In this regard certain chiropractors and their staffs contend that a recently filed constitutional challenge, suspends any enforcement of the new law, as modified in H.B. 148. Thus giving them perceived cover from prosecution by the State of Texas.
However, this position is contrary to the Laws. For the updated provisions found in Chapter 38.12 as amended by H.B. 148, is still considered valid law in State of Texas, for the Federal Court, where the chiropractic constitutional challenge was filed is still pending, with no ruling and the injunction sought by the chiropractor was denied by the Federal Court. Thus, each and every time a chiropractor and/or their representative calls an accident victim, the doctor and their employee or employees are committing a felony on each call. Potentially dozens, if not hundreds, of individual felonies are occurring each day upon the making of each and every call. This conduct could result in years, if not decades, in a State Prison.
The Texas Barratry problems continue despite a push by concerned lawyers across Texas to educate the public, chiropractors, lawyers and other professionals on the Barratry Laws of the State.
One possible way to bring change in this area is to work to ensure that everyone understands that chiropractors, lawyers or their representatives simply cannot knock on the doors or call the victims of accidents.
Another way to force change is for accident victims to seek refunds from the lawyers and chiropractors that have violated the law. In this regard, accident victims may be entitled to a full refund of fees and charges, if a chiropractor or their representatives called them after an accident, after September 1, 2009.
Accident victims may be able to void or cancel any and all signed contract with the lawyer and the chiropractor, if the victim was illegally solicited.
In certain cases the victims may be entitled to a full refund of any and all medical billings charged by such a chiropractor and a full refund of any attorney fees charged by a lawyer that accepted a chiropractic marketed case, if the conduct or solicitation was illegal.
Attorney James Shaw is the founding attorney of the Carabin & Shaw Law Firm, San Antonio. Shaw can be reached at 1.800.862.1260 or 210.222.2288.